Addressing regional imbalances critical to Ontario’s future

Ring of Fire

Industry report outlines strategies to unlock the economic potential of communities across the province

The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) has joined with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) to release a new report, The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies. The report outlines how governments of all levels can work with industry to unleash the potential of Ontario’s regional economies and reinforce the competitiveness of  the province as a whole.

“As part of the working group developing this report, your Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce was able to ensure the representation of Northern Ontario, specifically adding insights to the research from Indigenous economic inclusivity, the Ring of Fire, the importance of infrastructure investment and transportation such as short line rail and water,” notes SSMCOC Chief Executive Officer, Rory Ring.

The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies examines the opportunities and challenges faced by different communities across the province and offers a framework for thinking about the present and future of Ontario’s regional economies.

“We are only as strong as our weakest link and our ability to prosper depends on the strength of our different regions. Economic and population growth rates in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ottawa have far surpassed those in other areas of the province,” says Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Our communities – and the province as a whole – risk falling behind if we do not leverage the rich and diverse competitive advantages of our local economies.”

“We urge policymakers to take a modern and comprehensive approach to economic development by leveraging the existing competitiveness advantages of Ontario’s regions, and implement deliberate strategies to support long-term growth in communities across the province,” adds Rossi.

The OCC’s report makes 17 recommendations to strengthen the well-being of Ontario’s regions. Key takeaways include:

  • The most cost-effective way to drive economic development is to cultivate talent, trade,
    and infrastructure. Governments should make it a priority to upgrade transportation and energy networks, modernize their regulations and business supports, offer dynamic education and training opportunities, and encourage labour mobility.
  • Building regional capacity for innovation is fundamental to productivity and growth. This
    means improving commercialization and technology adoption, strengthening regional innovation centres, expanding broadband internet access, and facilitating cluster development.
  • Modern governance of economic development should empower a wide range of
    stakeholders including businesses, post-secondary institutions, and not-for-profit
    organizations outside government. Regional collaboration, economic reconciliation with
    Indigenous peoples, and the use of data are all critical to mobilizing local assets.

“In the face of technological transformation and globalization, there is no question that Ontario has what it takes to succeed. We are optimistic that the province can successfully navigate the modern economy if we work together to unlock the economic potential of our communities,” says Don Mitchell, President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

“Not only is this report an excellent example what your Chamber does for the community, it is a report that should be on the desk of every politician, public servant, community stakeholder and business as a reference guide to developing community competitiveness and shared economic prosperity in the face of many challenges,” concludes Mitchell.

Read the OCC’s report, The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies here.

Read the OCC’s full list of recommendations here.