Building for the Future Key for Thunder Bay

Proposed Event Centre
Proposed Event Centre
Proposed Event Centre
Proposed Event Centre

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay is a study in evolution in business and in our society. Thirty years ago the economy of Thunder Bay was based in the forest sector and in the trans-shipping of grain from our waterfront.

Changes in technology have changed Thunder Bay. Today the digital world is slowly but steadily chewing away at the market for newsprint in North America. That is not to suggest newsprint is dead, it is not, but the domination of printed news has seen television and the Internet take away its former dominance.

Thunder Bay has always been an economy in transition. The economic base across Northwestern Ontario has seen mining, forestry, as the major leaders.

The transition to newer economic opportunities has not been easy for everyone.

Some harken back to the days when lumber, newsprint, and grain were the kings in our economy, and wish for a return to those glory days of the past.

The fact is forestry and grain shipping will always hold a place in our city’s economy.

BombardierThunder Bay continues to see strong growth at Bombardier in the manufacturing of passenger rail vehicles for the TTC. Manufacturing is alive in Thunder Bay.

The Port of Thunder Bay is seeing a record year in shipping grain.

The reality is simple, Thunder Bay needs to be more innovative in reaching into the future and get our city positioned where the economy will be, instead of where it was.

Lakehead UniversityThose futures are being found at Lakehead University, Confederation College, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. The Thunder Bay International Airport Authority is a key component in our city and region’s economic future.

Equally important is building bridges within our region. Nishnawabe-Aski Nation (NAN),  Matawa First Nations communities and Fort William First Nation hold the keys to some of the major economic opportunities in Northern Ontario. Building solid economic bridges that bring forward co-operation and mutual respect are going to be critical for both sides to realize the maximum benefits.

Chief Gordon Beardy - Sachigo Lake, Chief Alvin Beardy, Muskrat Dam with Frank Kelnor from Northstar Air
Chief Gordon Beardy – Sachigo Lake, Chief Alvin Beardy, Muskrat Dam with Frank Kelnor from Northstar Air

Building and maintaining public / private partnerships,  in mining, in forestry, in tourism, are all likely to be increasingly critical to Northern and Northwestern Ontario’s economic and social futures.

The Community Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) is also working hard to realize the future in our community. The North Superior Workforce Planning Board is working hard with community partners to make sure the local labour force is connecting with the local needs of employers.

There are a lot of moving parts and getting those parts to all mesh together isn’t easy.

Yet there are some who are focused on the negative. Those are the people who in some cases fear change. That is often a case of change happening far too fast for the comfort zones of some in the city and region. Simply wishing that Thunder Bay could remain the way it was is unrealistic.

As the marketplace changes, and technology evolves, we are seeing huge opportunities in our city and region.

To realize that success, will mean hard work. It will mean working together to make things better. It means more education is going to be really important.

Gone are the days when a high school graduation meant a long career at one job in the secondary industries of forestry or grain shipping. Today heading back to school increasingly is the norm.

Coming are the days when Thunder Bay will likely realize all of our city’s opportunities.

Building on success at Lakehead University is going to be critical. The same holds true at Confederation College.

The future for the city is going to be what us as citizens, activists, and promoters of our city make it. We can choose to reach forward with positive energy and efforts and we will all benefit from that work.

That is the kind of path forward that the city needs to do.


James Murray

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