Premier Kathleen Wynne’s $4 million announcement this past July may actually help boost the local economy by $12 million, creating 29 jobs and promoting new possible revenue streams for the TBRRI.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s $4 million announcement this past July may actually help boost the local economy by $12 million, creating 29 jobs and promoting new possible revenue streams for the Premier Kathleen Wynne’s $4 million announcement this past July may actually help boost the local economy by $12 million, creating 29 jobs and promoting new possible revenue streams for the TBRRI.


Can research drive economic development in Thunder Bay?

The answer is definitely yes – and it’s only getting better. The local economy got a huge boost this summer when Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Thunder Bay on July 30, 2014 to announce an additional $4 million towards the cyclotron and research funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).

That actually represents an estimated $12 million in economic activity for Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. According to the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO), each dollar invested in research and innovation generates an additional $3 in economic output.

“Our government is committed to making smart investments to improve healthcare and create jobs in Northern Ontario,” Premier Wynne said during the announcement. “I am pleased that this support will help the Institute perform cutting-edge research that will improve healthcare while creating 29 high-skilled jobs.”

The funding will stimulate the local economy in several ways as well as job creation. It will also attract students to Thunder Bay to work and study under TBRRI scientists, either directly or through Lakehead University or the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM).

The new investment also represents seed money to help the TBRRI create future revenue streams that will benefit our economy and help the research program grow even further.

“This $4 million in provincial funding will create new jobs and will help us reach our commercialization and economic development goals over the next three years,” said Dr. Roxanne Deslauriers, Acting CEO of the TBRRI and VP Research at the Health Sciences Centre.

The TBRRI and the local economy will benefit as new breakthroughs in research at TBRRI become new treatments and equipment – commercialization in itself will provide additional revenue streams. Equipment may be engineered and produced in Thunder Bay as well, creating further jobs and a possible new bio-tech manufacturing industry. It’s part of the knowledge-based micro-sector growing in Thunder Bay.

The cyclotron itself may generate revenue since the TBRRI plans to become a supplier of medical isotopes to healthcare facilities in Ontario and Manitoba. There are other, non-medical uses for these isotopes too, such as in the mining industry.

Aside from anything else, generating revenue will help ensure the research program will be sustainable moving forward so we can enjoy all the medical benefits that come along with it.

“The TBRRI is committed to building a sustainable research program that advances excellence in imaging to provide patient-focused research for the residents of Northwestern Ontario,” Dr. Deslauriers said.

Graham Strong

Part of the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute’s mission is to enable patient-centred research that will make Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario healthier, wealthier, and smarter. This article is Part 2 of a three-part series examining how the TBRRI does just that.

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak

QUEENS PARK – Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak and PC Economic Development Critic Monte McNaughton hosted a conference call today following the release of Paths to Prosperity: Advanced Manufacturing for a Better Ontario, the thirteenth in a series of policy white papers. Ontario PC Leader.

“The big picture is our plan is big, bold, and optimistic, and came bring in 300,000 good high paying manufacturing jobs,” stated the PC Leader. 

Hudak says, “Some think Ontario can’t compete in the global economy, and I have one think to say, they are wrong”.

“Driving manufacturing drives the economy, international trade and research”.

“If Ontario can capture six percent of the manufacturing jobs in North America, we will achieve our goal, it is realistic”. 

There is a new availability of natural gas near Ontario that will lower costs for manufacturers. We need to move quickly to seize the opportunities. 

Ontario needs a government that believes in manufacturers. We can be the manufacturing heartland of North America,” states Hudak. 

Monty McNaughton says, “ I have seen first hand what happens when government treats manufacturing as an afterthought. Instead of bold new ideas and action, we see studies and commissions, and a huge growth in the size of government”. 

“We need to think big in Ontario,” states McNaughton. 

“Three hundred thousand new jobs is achievable”. 

  1. Power rate for business.
  2. Invest in plants and equipment
  3. Cut through unneccesary red tape
  4. Cut the gridlock
  5. Expand trade to Alberta

The manufacturing sector also needs natural resources.

“The Ring of Fire is a once in a century opportunity. You need a Premier who really understands the Ring of Fire. I would put a Minister in charge who would let nothing stand in the way,” adds Hudak. “The Ring of Fire can be the equal to the Oil Sands in Alberta in economic impact”.

“Ontario needs to share the royalties with First Nations and when they have a skin in the game, they will help make this project happen”.

“We need a public private partnership for transportation, to get the resources to markets”.

Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle has over the past months, been sharing how progress is coming on the Ring of Fire. A great deal of work is needed for this massive project to come together. Gravelle is focused on getting the project right. 

Michael Gravelle MPPBack in May, Gravelle shared in an interview with NetNewsLedger there was a historic meeting with Matawa First Nations, Premier Wynne and his ministry. “There had been no similar meeting for over forty years,” shares the Minister. There had been both formal and informal talks, but not a formal meeting like that.

Gravelle states that “Cliffs Natural Resources and Noront Resources are both seeing the importance of engaging with First Nations, and getting this done right”.

The Minister also is looking forward to a larger role from the federal government in the Ring of Fire.

Manufacturing in the 21st Century is knowledge driven

Hudak made the comments during the release of Paths to Prosperity: Advanced Manufacturing for a Better Ontario – the thirteenth in a series of policy proposal papers.  To read a copy, please visit:

A thriving manufacturing sector drives productivity, R&D and trade. “Whether it’s life-saving drugs, fuel-efficient automobiles or the latest subway cars, Ontario can and will establish itself as a home for high-quality, high-value manufacturing jobs,” Hudak added.

“Those who say we can’t compete with China, well if it is in cheap plastic toys at the Dollar Store or cheap t-shirts, maybe they are right, but when it comes to more advanced products, Ontario can lead,” concluded Hudak.

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european union Consumer rulesBRUSSELS – International Business - “Knowledge is power, as the saying goes: it is vital that we attract the brightest and best researchers and students because they contribute to a successful knowledge economy in the EU. Our aim through the Marie Curie Actions and new Erasmus for All programme is to make Europe the destination of choice for higher education, research and innovation,” said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. Research and the energy of youth are seen as keys for building a solid and growing economy. 

In Northwestern Ontario, there was enormous action on building a knowledge-based economy in recent years. Much of that discussion has now seemingly shifted back to our region’s potential as a primary resource sector with mining taking the lead over much of the research discussions.

The shuttering of the Experimental Lakes Area is an example of how the federal Conservatives are, in the words of their political opponents engaged in a war on science. There are many areas where Thunder Bay and all of Northwestern Ontario could be a major focal point in the growth of the knowledge based economy of the future. 

In October 2011, then Premier Dalton McGuinty proposed a future based on the development of hydrogen based commuter trains. Since that date, Dalton McGuinty, and all other political leaders have remained stone silent on the huge potential of hydrogen powered rail. However the world has continued to move forward. It is by building for the future that potential can be realized.

The European Union, in moving forward appears to be recognizing that engaging youth, new ideas and research are a key to economic success.

The commission states, “The EU needs to attract talented non-EU students and researchers who can contribute to our growth and competitiveness with their knowledge and skills. Moving to Europe temporarily is an opportunity embraced by over 200.000 students and researchers from outside the EU every year. However, far too many of them have to face unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Current rules for obtaining a student visa or a residence permit are often complex and unclear; procedures can be lengthy and vary considerably across Member States and moving from one Member State to another can be very difficult or even impossible. This hampers the possibility to provide EU countries with a greater pool of talent and reduces the appeal of the EU as a world centre for excellence”.

Knowledge is power

ThinkToday the Commission proposed to make it easier and more attractive for non-EU national students, researchers and other groups to enter and stay in the EU for periods exceeding three months. New legislation will set clearer time limits for national authorities to decide on applications, provide for more opportunities to access the labour market during their stays and facilitate intra-EU movement.

“Coming to the EU for research or study is far more difficult than it should be. We have to remove these obstacles to make the EU more open to talents. Such mobility benefits the EU and our economy through the circulation of knowledge and ideas.” said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.

Experience with the implementation of current legislation has shown that Member States were not able to fully address the difficulties that applicants face when wanting to come to the EU to study or conduct research. The Commission is now proposing to set clearer, more consistent and transparent rules across the EU. The two current Directives on Students and Researchers will be modified and replaced by a single new Directive, which will improve:

  • Procedural guarantees, in particular through a 60-day time limit for Member States’ authorities to decide on an application for a visa or residence permit, which will make the application process more straightforward and transparent.

  • Intra-EU mobility and transfer of skills and knowledge. Simpler and more flexible rules will increase the possibility for researchers, students and remunerated trainees to move within the EU, which is particularly important for students and researchers enrolled in joint programmes. Family members of researchers will also be granted certain mobility rights.

  • Access to the labour market. During their studies, students will be allowed to work for a minimum of 20 hours per week so that they can support themselves adequately and contribute economically. Researchers and students will also be able to remain for a period of 12 months under certain conditions on the territory after finalisation of their studies/research to identify job opportunities or set up a business. This will not amount to an automatic right to work, as granting a work permit remains a national responsibility.

  • The overall protection of additional groups of non-EU nationals, such as au pairs, school pupils and remunerated trainees, who are not covered by the existing EU legislation.

Next steps

The proposed Directive which is presented in the form of a recast now needs to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The Commission hopes for the new rules to take effect as of 2016.

The overall picture at a glance

Despite the current economic downturn and the rising unemployment levels, many EU Member States still struggle to fill skilled labour positions. There is evidence that this struggle is going to persist during the decade ahead for both economic and demographic reasons.

One of the problems is that the EU is not able to attract the workforce it needs while other countries worldwide are doing much better when it comes to making it more appealing for these talents to join them at the earlier stage of universities studies and research projects. It is therefore in the EU’s own interest to become more attractive for foreign students and researchers and to increase its appeal as a world centre for excellence. More exchange students and international scholars will lead to economic growth, spur innovation and lead to more jobs in the long run.

In 2011, around 220,000 non-EU nationals entered the EU for the purposes of studies, pupils exchange, unremunerated training or voluntary service1. The highest number of non-EU nationals arrived for the purpose of education and studies. In 2011, the countries which received the highest number of students were France (64,794), Spain (35,037), Italy (30,260), Germany (27,568) and the Netherlands (10,701).

The same year around 7 000 non-EU nationals arrived for purposes of research in the 24 EU Member States covered by the data; mostly in France (2,075), the Netherlands (1,616), Sweden (817), Finland (510) and Spain (447).

Today, the European Migration Network (EMN) run by the Commission also publishes a Study on Immigration of International Students to the EU. It provides a sound analytical overview and statistical information on the immigration and mobility policies of Member States and of their national strategies to promote Europe as an attractive destination for international students.

For Thunder Bay, Northwestern Ontario, and Canada competing in the future will mean greater engagement for the potential of our region to be matched.

James Murray

NSWPB Paul Knafelc PresentationTHUNDER BAY – Onward and upward. On December 22, 2010, Frank Pullia wrote a piece on “The Emerging Thunder Bay Region”. Pullia penned, “In recent years, Thunder Bay has emerged as a major player in many fields such as bio-medicine, technology, green energies, tourism, education, mining, engineering, the arts (particularly film), and Aboriginal relations. Thunder Bay and region has always enjoyed a rich and diverse cultural scene and the Internet allows us to do business with anyone, anywhere in the world. It’s an exciting time of change for this area”.

“For many people who have left Thunder Bay, and ended up in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver or Ottawa, or anywhere else in the world, they start finding that the community they thought, as teenagers was ‘boring’, is actually an amazing place with lots of things to do,” continued Pullia. “Coming back to the region, often allow these professionals to seize opportunities that otherwise would never happen especially in some of the larger markets where many of the people who have returned to Thunder Bay once lived”.

Pullia is now the Co-Chair of Business for the North Superior Workforce Planning Board (NSWPB) which in partnership with the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce commissioned a report entitled “Economic and Labour Market Guidance: Thunder Bay CMA,” highlighting several positive economic trends that appear to be emerging. This report backs up the concept that the local economy is in transition and was sufficiently diversified to have been able to withstand the near collapse of the forestry industry.

Madge Richardson, Executive Director for NSWPB, stated, “I believe this report will help us understand the economy by providing solid numbers and statistics. We’re all talking about the economy and speculating on its recovery. These numbers show us where we are indeed renewing ourselves and where there is work to be done. The Thunder Bay Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) economy is shrinking, with its Gross Domestic Product, population and employment declining over the last decade. Where economic growth is synonymous with economic prosperity, such decline in these metrics suggests that Thunder Bay is fading away, but several pieces of empirical evidence refute this assumption and point to economic renewal”.

The report, prepared for the NSWPB by Paul Knafelc of Community Benchmarks Inc. states, “The first indication of economic renewal is the fact that Thunder Bay’s population base is shifting. On the surface it would appear that Thunder Bay CMA’s (Census Metropolitan Area) population has stagnated at around 122,000 people for the past ten years. An investigation of the CMA’s migration dynamics, however, reveals that while slightly less than a third of the total population (35,692 people) left the Thunder Bay area between 2001 and 2009, an almost equivalent amount (34,908 people) moved into the area. In light of Thunder Bay’s employment decline, the volume of out-migration is not surprising. What is compelling, however, is the volume of people moving into the area over the same time period”.

The report goes on to state, “Thunder Bay’s median employment income reached $30,170 in 2009, $430 higher than Ontario’s median employment income in that year. Since median employment income includes both full-time and part-time workers, Thunder Bay’s higher employment income is more impressive given that a lower percentage of workers are employed full-time in this CMA (75.5 percent) versus the percentage employed full-time in Ontario (80.5 percent)”.

What is interesting is to note that while some in the region seem mired in the economic issues of the past, looking for renewal from a return of the paper mills there is a paradigm shift appearing to happen in the city. “When Thunder Bay’s net migration characteristics are examined, Thunder Bay realized or gained the most people from intra-provincial migration with a net gain of 3,101 over the 2001 to 2009 time period. It is interesting that Thunder Bay attracted more people from Ontario than it loses to Ontario, given Ontario’s greater employment growth”.

Frank Pullia, NSWPB’s Co-Chair of Business, identified, “The report shows that despite the substantial outmigration between 2001 and 2009 [35,692], almost the same number of people [34,908] have migrated into the area. This suggests that Thunder Bay’s population base is renewing itself as such population dynamics are likely driven by the shifting demand for skill”.

“The study clearly shows that Thunder Bay CMA is transitioning in its skill demands. The great news is that since 2008, individual median income has increased to over $30,000 which is slightly above the provincial average. This is a first, and it speaks well of the type of good-paying jobs that require these new skills,” added Pullia.

What does this mean? “Likely for one it means that the economy of Thunder Bay continues to shift directions to a knowledge-based economy, and toward new opportunities in mining.” answers Pullia. “It also means that the growing Aboriginal population is making a positive economic contribution to the local economy with hundreds of Aboriginal students graduating from College and University each year and hundreds more being trained in skilled trades in preparation of emerging opportunities in mining and other sectors of growth in the local and regional economy”.

“While over 50% of urban Aboriginals own their own home, challenges remain in providing opportunities for a smoother transition to urban life for new members coming in from remote communities for medical and educational needs. Stats Canada will be releasing more detailed census information by the spring of 2013 and a better understanding of trends in Aboriginal migration, educational attainment, income levels and workforce participation can be conducted then”.

The report found that with respect to the number of businesses, Thunder Bay’s Real Estate industry and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry had the most businesses at 612 employees and 608 employees respectively. An examination of employment reveals that the greatest number of people employed in Thunder Bay work within the Educational Services Industry (6,392), followed by the Food Services and Drinking Places industry employing 4,344 people.

Thunder Bay’s Food and Beverage Stores Industry generated the most revenue in 2010, exceeding $412 million. Specialty Trade Contractors ranked second in terms of revenue with more than $354 million.

An examination of industries top 10 ranking for number of businesses, employment and revenue reveals that only two industries appear in the top 10 for all three metrics for Thunder Bay: the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Industry and the Specialty Trade Contractors Industry.

The news, overall is that a new Thunder Bay area is indeed ‘emerging’ and that the paradigm shift of our region’s population and economy is continuing.

“Challenges however remain in addressing the needs of the underemployed (50% of the working population is still making less than $30,000 per year) and those that have not been able to find employment and have fallen through the cracks after having exhausted their unemployment benefits. In fact, a deeper analysis of the study findings indicate that about 5,000 workers are doing odd jobs and reporting some kind of income to Revenue Canada but are off the employment records. Some of these are adult workers who lost their jobs in the forestry sector, and who may be too old to move to other areas of the country for employment or for retraining, and too young to retire,” added Pullia.

“With an experienced aging working population starting to retire in large numbers, decision-makers at all levels but especially the three orders of government cannot rest on their laurels but need to take decisive action to allocate the necessary resources to prepare the workforce for the future. Not to do so would mean a missed opportunity to take Thunder Bay and area to the next level of growth and prosperity”.

Pullia concludes “The North Superior Workforce Planning Board will continue to work diligently with our community partners in education, government, labour and business in addressing Thunder Bay and region’s workforce development current and future needs”.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer

For more information, and to read the full report visit North Superior Workforce Planning Board (NSWPB)

Nipigon's Paddle to the Sea ParkTHUNDER BAY – Moving forward into the future is always something that generates fear. In Northern Ontario, our traditional economy has been in primary resources. When the crisis in the forestry sector started, communities across our region were impacted. Mills closed, people were laid off, and communities and families have all been impacted.

The impact has not just been on the workers, but on management staff as well. The sad news from Terrace Bay that the mill, impacted by a tragic explosion last fall, is closed and likely going up for sale, is just the latest setback for the forestry sector.

The significant shift to a knowledge-based economy is continuing to make an impact, but politically there is still seemingly a political mindset that forestry is still king. There has been enormous amounts of resources invested by the Ontario government in grants, loan guarantees and other support to get things moving in the forest sector.

On February 2007, in Nipigon, the Multiply Forest Products mill burnt to the ground. Fighting the fire almost drained the town’s water resevoir. The mill, which had recently been purchased by the employees was Nipigon’s major employer. At the time, there were discussions of rebuilding. That has not happened. Nipigon has survived because the community has taken a view more toward the future than attempting to hang onto its past.

In Nipigon, just a few months earlier, the town’s largest employer, the Norampac mill in Red Rock, had closed its doors.

Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey states, “Accepting that the mill was not going to reopen was difficult for the community. But in the community we had already accepted that forestry was not going to last forever. In the election that had taken place just months before the fire the new Mayor and council had campaigned on this very issue, that we as a community needed to begin diversifying our economy in preparation for the coming downturn in Forestry (We just didn’t expect it to come so fast.)”

“We also recognised that the only way to survive as a community was to look to the future not dwell on the past,” adds Harvey.

It is a move more communities in the north need to be doing.

We need to be asking ourselves, is the future in pulp and paper? Or as forestry evolves, should we be looking at the coming markets? There will, likely, always be a market somewhere in the world for newsprint, but overall it is a shrinking market. It is not a business of the future.

One of the factors is well outside of the control of our region, and out of control of Ontario’s political leaders. That is the subsidized paper industry in China.

The success rate on these investments is outweighed by the failures. A few years ago a business survey had Thunder Bay businesses saying that it is time to make a shift forward and start looking past forestry.

Thunder Bay has started on the path to making a shift in our economy. The move to a “knowledge-based economy” had started under Mayor Lynn Peterson’s first term. Long-time Liberal MP Joe Comuzzi refused to vote against a Conservative budget that had promised funds in it for the budding molecular medicine research sector in Thunder Bay. Comuzzi ended up being kicked out of the Liberal caucus by then leader Stephane Dion over that decision.

It took courage in Nipigon, and in Thunder Bay to make the decision to start changing the economy. It will likely take yet more courage and determination to continue that process.

It is a path more communities in our region should follow.

James Murray
Chief Content Officer

Canadian MoneyTHUNDER BAY – We all know that the economy in Thunder Bay, and Northwestern Ontario for that matter, has to change. This is particularly true of what we would consider to be “traditional industries” or mature markets. This is where the discussion can get interesting.

Differences in demographics, backgrounds (both professional and educational), needs, wants and agendas all lead to varying opinions and visions as to how our economy should change and where and how capital gets allocated.

Anecdotally speaking I still sense polarizing opinions as to how these economic changes should take place. I get the feeling that some people are still holding on to the status quo while others want a drastic change in the other direction.

One thing which is clear is that there is no “best route” to achieving economic change. Any path(s) we take are going to inevitably include growing pains and compromise. As is typical though I think what is going to ultimately be the most successful path forward will be the one that lies somewhere in the middle. In building a sustainable, competitive knowledge based economy we need to maximize, not ignore existing assets.

While we struggle through this change two phrases seem to be a part of every conversation, “value-add” and “knowledge based economy”. The problem is I’m not sure if we have a good understanding of what these terms actually mean and how to put the theory behind them into practice in order to create a more competitive and sustainable economy for our region. This begs the question then, just what is “value-add”? Is it merely a derivative of a raw material, an enhancement made somewhere in the production process? Why is this so important to transforming our economy and how do we use it to create competitive sustainable jobs?

It is easy to get caught up in an argument of semantics but what I think we need to focus on is how and where the “value” in this phrase actually comes from.

I’m not sure how taking a commodity and converting it to another commodity, with no change in business models or value propositions, adds any true value. Wonderful enhancements can be made along the production process to raw materials but if the company ends up bankrupt what sort of value have we actually derived. We need to break free from the continuous cycles of bubbles and consumption we seem to be perpetually stuck in.

If we are serious about value creation in our economy we need to completely re-think how and why we do business. This can be difficult in a region in which we continually see a list of the usual suspects making poor, short-sighted decisions. The actual mechanics of value creation in economic development help insulate us from these rollercoaster cycles by focusing on concentrations of interconnected firms and supporting or coordinating organizations which have synergies and create efficiencies between one another. The value created is in the new business models and value networks which are formed as a result of these firms being located in a similar geographic area.

The company’s profit materially from the presence of powerful “externalities” and “spillovers” that bring them important competitive advantages, ranging from the presence of a specialized workforce to supplier specialization and the exchange of leading edge knowledge via research and development. Development of this nature can be done independent of government policy so it won’t fall prey to partisan agendas. Businesses who decide to locate here from outside the region have more incentive to stay because their long term profitability is linked to the regions complementary organizations and the mutual benefits these companies derive from their proximity to one another.

If Thunder Bay is ever serious about getting away from our boom and bust cycles we need to start taking a longer term focus to development in all areas of our economy, and utilize a more realistic way to think about the economy and development efforts so as to put both on a more productive footing.

We need to focus our policymaking and funding allocations to the more grounded, day-to-day interactions by which real companies in real places complete transactions, share technologies, develop innovations, start new businesses—and yes, create jobs and locate workers.

We need to get away from this model of being colonized from external companies in which our livelihoods are at the mercy of consumption and bubbles and the capital investment of foreign firms with no affinity to the region.

There is no question this is difficult as it requires tremendous patience and the collaboration of many organizations, some who are even competitors. One thing is for certain, simply throwing myopic, patchwork solutions at poorly defined problems isn’t going to lead to true value creation and prosperity. We need to stop focusing on what is going to garner short term headlines and start making intelligent decisions focused on sustainable 21st century business practices which will lead to true value creation for our city and region.

Graham Mailhot

Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre
The Innovation Centre acts as a pivotal player in growing Northwestern Ontario’s innovation capacity. We offer support to innovative entrepreneurs, businesses, and community projects in the region of Northwestern Ontario. In addition, the Centre seeks out new approaches to improve, enhance and invigorate a commercialization system in our region. By encouraging ongoing cooperation between business, education and government, the Centre is a driving force to improve economic vitality.

Located in Thunder Bay on Lakehead University campus, the Centre prides itself on creating linkages, engaging entrepreneurs, supporting management, training people, accessing markets, developing and implementing businesses plans, sourcing financing and building success!

Canadian MoneyTHUNDER BAY – Business – After attending a recent conference at Lakehead University surrounding competition. Yvan Couture, owner of and co-founder of Communitech in Waterloo presented how the community has been able to grow, develop, and prosper into a knowledge based economy and ICT hub. Part of being a knowledge based economy includes building on other people’s ideas in a collaborative environment regardless of location. Another part includes competing with the best on a global scale. When asked how he felt when Google acquired a company next door to his business and would be moving in if he felt intimidated, Yvan replied by saying “if we are going to compete with the best, it would be nice to have them next door”.

Rather than protecting his local environment, to grow the community he embraced the challenge and the Waterloo tech community has not looked back, but raised the bar.

The only sustainable competitive advantage is learning and applying faster than your competition.

In a closed loop local economy where everyone promotes buying off of each other we are effectively eliminating outside competition, learning, creativity and solutions to infiltrate our bubble that will impact our ability to expand beyond the borders of Northwestern Ontario. Those who feel so strongly about it, look at your personal life. Are you using Facebook, Google, Twitter, a computer, a mobile phone, TV? These advancements all happened outside of the region and have grown in popularity because they connect us with others remotely and many of us cannot imagine our lives without these facets and if we discard them will reduce our productivity greatly.

Not only should they be embraced but we should be innovative as they create a platform for us to build upon their successes.

With increased penetration of the Internet and crowd sourcing being used to drive better value, certain businesses may feel threatened that their ability to service the local market might suffer as local customers can easily purchase elsewhere. Adversity is a challenge many companies face and must combat to remain competitive in today’s Global economy. We are connected now more than ever, believe it or not, even in Thunder Bay.

Rather than fight with the sole argument of ‘hey buy local – it’s better for you- I need to be protected’, it might cloud your true value or service offering. What about the local start-up business that found an outside vendor providing excellent value that is half the price and able to provide a better service? This company should not be shunned but encouraged as they are making a business decision that allows for further investment in their company to promote themselves on the global stage which will create future knowledge economy positions right here.

Sometimes it does make sense to buy local however and that is when a company is providing a unique product or value added service that you could not get elsewhere or you have a personal connection with the vendor.

It also makes sense when the company you are sourcing from is competitively priced, not the cheapest but at least in the same ball park. Businesses that are pricing themselves out of the market but rely on and push buying local to protect themselves are not doing the community any favours. Having lived in a few different communities within Ontario, Thunder Bay is a very unique place when it comes to local.

People are extremely passionate and the radius of what they consider local is quite small in comparison to other communities. In Southern Ontario, local is anything made in Ontario.

In Toronto, it is anything that is made in Canada. As a primarily public sector economy, perhaps it is expected that we have the Government mindset of protectionism to prevent outside competition. Ultimately for the benefit of Thunder Bay, its citizens, and tourists that come here what would be best is if we all considered the best in the World our local competitor to increase the benchmark. I hope out of this post, I am not saying make an effort not to buy local because people aren’t doing unique things but rather let’s pull up our socks collectively because I know we can serve more than Thunder Bay and attract the World to the place we call home.

By competing with other markets, we will attract a cash infusion into Thunder Bay by earning it to grow the City rather than recycle what Government dollars reside here.

Nick Kolobutin

Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre

Visit the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre.

The Innovation Centre acts as a pivotal player in growing Northwestern Ontario’s innovation capacity. We offer support to innovative entrepreneurs, businesses, and community projects in the region of Northwestern Ontario. In addition, the Centre seeks out new approaches to improve, enhance and invigorate a commercialization system in our region. By encouraging ongoing cooperation between business, education and government, the Centre is a driving force to improve economic vitality.

Located in Thunder Bay on Lakehead University campus, the Centre prides itself on creating linkages, engaging entrepreneurs, supporting management, training people, accessing markets, developing and implementing businesses plans, sourcing financing and building success!

RE/MAX Thunder BayTHUNDER BAY – Two decades after opening its doors, RE/MAX First Choice Realty marks its milestone 20th anniversary and continues to evolve to serve the burgeoning Thunder Bay region. The company has transitioned from a small startup in 1991 to a market force, boasting a solid 25 per cent market share and ranking among the top 200 Canadian real estate brokerages (2010 – Real Trends Inc).

“The franchise has grown exponentially in lockstep with the expanding Thunder Bay community,” says founding Broker-Owner of RE/MAX First Choice Realty, Mario Tegola. “The emergent real estate needs of today’s buyers and sellers have grown increasingly complex in a city that continues to experience tremendous development, a veritable metamorphosis of trade, industry and economy, and a progressively enhanced regional profile. Northwestern Ontario is on an upward track, with great potential for the future. Yet, one thing that has remained static is an integral factor in our success—after 20 years, our customers remain our utmost priority, and we thank them for making this milestone possible.”

The RE/MAX First Choice sales force expanded from a team of just five realtors when it first opened to an award-winning team of 38 realtors working from a centrally-located office at 846 MacDonell St. Tegola notes that the area’s stable housing sector can be attributed to exceptional affordability and a strong desire toward homeownership. Ownership rates in Thunder Bay have risen from 70 per cent in 1996 to just over 73 per cent in 2006 (Statistics Canada), while the city’s population has remained relatively even.

“There’s no question that Thunder Bay represents great value,” says Tegola. “With the city’s rising status as a regional service hub and transition to a knowledge-based economy, we are starting to see considerable investment in our work force, our infrastructure and our institutions. There’s a slow but evident reversal of out-migration among youth, and the area is now attracting a greater number of professionals and skilled workers. As much as we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary, we’re also proud to celebrate the positive direction of Thunder Bay and the surrounding area. As realtors, it’s an exciting time to be unofficial ambassadors of this up-and-coming municipality.”

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of RE/MAX First Choice Realty, the company is holding an invitational reception on July 14th for its realtors, clients, industry professionals, as well as business and community partners. Special guests include the Mayor of Thunder Bay, Keith Hobbs, as well as RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada executives.

“We’re honoured to be able to recognize the people who have made our progress possible,” says Tegola. “The very heart and soul of our company is the dedicated realtors and staff of RE/MAX First Choice who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence, integrity and results. The strength and support of the RE/MAX brand—and the people behind it—have also been significant, and we’re proud to exemplify the quality for which RE/MAX is renowned.”

To that end, RE/MAX First Choice Realty has wholeheartedly embraced community and charitable philanthropy, which has long been woven into the fabric of the RE/MAX organization. It is steadfast in its efforts to give back to those who have enabled its success. The franchise supports RE/MAX official causes—Children’s Miracle Network and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Ontario Chapter. Locally, its team helps to raise funds and awareness for the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital, the United Way, Teen Challenge and many other service-based charities. It also sponsors sports teams that foster the development of local talent, including the Lakehead University Hockey Team, Thunder Bay Minor Hockey, Thunder Bay Kings and Thunder Bay Border Cats Baseball.

“Sheer tenacity, professionalism and experience have propelled RE/MAX First Choice Realty to the top of the industry,” says Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President, Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “The company continues to flourish under the guidance and direction of its founding Broker-Owner, Mario Tegola—a real testament to his leadership and fortitude. Given the positive change in the region, we’re certain that RE/MAX First Choice will remain a pillar in Thunder Bay for many years to come.”

RE/MAX First Choice Realty Ltd. specializes in residential properties, luxury homes, new construction, acreage and farms, condominiums, investment/commercial/industrial, recreational real estate as well as relocation. The company maintains a presence on the world wide web at:

Year-to-date (May) sales in Thunder Bay remain off year-ago levels by approximately 15 per cent. Inventory has played a role, with new listings down almost 11 per cent. Average price, meanwhile, continues its ascent, rising a solid 7.8 per cent to $153,998 vs. $142,914 during January to May of 2010.

Lakehead University Law School campus

photo by Derek Silver - all rights reserved by photographer

THUNDER BAY – Editorial – In politics, nothing is moved unless it is pushed. In Thunder Bay, on May 19th, a task force was formed. The Chancellor’s Task Force is headed by Arthur V. Mauro, Chancellor of Lakehead University, and prominent lawyer and businessman. The Task Force will focus its efforts on securing the provincial funding necessary to support the operation of the Lakehead University Faculty of Law. The Task Force comprises prominent members of the legal and business communities from the region as well as Simcoe County, and includes: Arthur Mauro, Chair, Brian Stevenson, Vice-Chair, and members Catherine Beamish, Kristen Bucci, Richard Buset, Cam Clark, Sylvio Di Grigorio, Karen Drake, Maria Dufresne, Lee Gould, The Honourable Doug Lewis, Ross Murray, Rod Shewchuck, and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose.

Our two MPPs, Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle took this idea forward to cabinet, and pushed for the Law School too. Today, the results are that in 2013, there will be Ontario’s first new law school in almost half a century.

The decision to approve the new law school at Lakehead University took efforts from all of those involved. Success as they say has many fathers, and mothers. The vision to get rolling on this project was city-wide. Former Lakehead University President Fred Gilbert is one of those who must be smiling too.

Thunder Bay is in the midst of a major shift, our economy is changing. The knowledge-based economy that has been promised is looking increasingly closer to what was promised. The Lakehead University Faculty of Law is a part of that change.

The Faculty of Law will provide an educational focus on legal issues related to the resource-based Northern Ontario economy. Lakehead University’s Faculty of Law will help redress declining participation in sole- and small- law firm practice, provide access in Northern Ontario to a Canadian law school, and emphasize working with Aboriginal peoples to address the legal needs of Aboriginal communities in the North.

Moving forward means change. Those who are not excited by change might find that Thunder Bay is doing a lot of catching up, and it isn’t over yet.

Our future is ahead of us. Today, a day after the approval of the Faculty of Law, we can see the impact of the efforts of many in our community who are focused on the future. It is our solid conviction at that Thunder Bay’s best days are ahead of us. That said, the changes happening in our city are presenting us with new opportunities. They are fueling a growing spirit of optimism, and engaging the future.

It is a welcome step forward.

James Murray