The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) hosted the Niagara Economic Summit at Niagara-on-the-Lake on Oct. 30.
Through the summit, the GNCC attempts to identify the ways in which Niagara can best shape its economic future. It draws together a formidable pool of knowledge from diverse experts and policymakers in government, business, and the community, and seeks to provide answers for that most crucial question to Niagara’s residents and stakeholders: how do we help build prosperity?
Opening remarks were delivered by Brock University president Dr. Jack Lightstone.
Other speakers included:
- Dr. David Wolfe, co-director of the Innovation Policy Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, who spoke on technological change, innovation, and Niagara’s future in the economic mega-region of southern Ontario. H
- Brock Dickinson of economic development consultancy firm MDB Insight, brought more than 20 years’ experience in economic development both in Canada and abroad to bear on questions of public transit and aging infrastructure.
- Karl Baldauf, vice-president of policy and government gelations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, a Grimsby native who combines a local focus with wide-ranging international experience, spoke about Niagara’s emerging industries and trends, how technology creates opportunities and alters the nature of work, and new ways of doing business.
Many of Niagara’s policy heavy-hitters participated in the Summit’s panel discussions, including Mayor Walter Sendzik of the City of St. Catharines, regional councillor David Barrick, and Bob Seguin of Niagara Region Economic Development.
Business interests were represented by Phil Ritchie of Keefer Developments, George Darte, a fifth-generation Niagara business owner, Innovate Niagara CEO Jeff Chesebrough, John Armstrong of the Armstrong Strategy Group, Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of Grape Growers of Ontario, and many more. Of course, no discussion of Niagara’s economic future could exclude questions concerning young people, and the Summit had the perspective of youth from Kyle Rose, president of Brock University’s student union. Regional Chair Alan Caslin gave the closing remarks. The summit was well-attended by Niagara policymakers, including six regional councillors, four city councillors, five of Niagara’s mayors, and Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates.
The summit “is enormously important for finding the new ideas and initiatives that are going to drive Niagara forward,” said GNCC CEO Mishka Balsom. “This is a collaborative event with an enormous amount of talent and knowledge on tap, and the outcomes of the summit will shape the policies of the future.”