Economic development is critically important for Burlington.
In 2016, Canadian Business and PROFIT listed Burlington in the top 10 on its annual list of Canada’s Best Places for Business.
It cited the fact we have a low unemployment rate, strong connectivity to major markets and a well-educated population as driving economic factors.
This independent recognition reminds us that we already have a thriving economy. The Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is leveraging these assets every day.
To foster economic development, it is important to adapt to a changing market.
In a 2016 report, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce identified a critical gap in Canada’s business growth strategy. Here in Canada we are starting many businesses, but they are not growing into large organizations.
We also know from Industry Canada that more than 40 per cent of new jobs in Canada come from companies less than five years old.
Aligned with the City of Burlington’s strategic vision of A City That Grows, the BEDC developed an innovation and entrepreneurship strategy in 2016. It is focused on strengthening local support for entrepreneurs across the region.
BEDC invested significant time on this strategy. Staff reviewed data, looked at comparable cities and their strategies, and connected with the business community. More than 50 stakeholders weighed in.
These stakeholders told us the local ecosystem is alive and well. They also said they needed a physical space in Burlington where entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and established businesses could connect.
The BEDC’s innovation and entrepreneurship strategy will take shape this year through the development of an innovation centre in our city.
Late last month, the BEDC’s board approved the lease for the yet-to-be named innovation centre located in the Burloak business park at 5500 North Service Rd.
The new 8,500-square-foot innovation centre will increase the connectivity, visibility and vibrancy of innovation and entrepreneurship in our city. It will provide event space, meeting areas, programming and incubation space to members of the start-up community.
The centre will help businesses looking to start-up or grow in Burlington, as well as established companies looking to innovate. This will bolster our economy and bring more jobs to Burlington.
The doors are expected to open in June 2017. Learn more at www.bedc.ca.
Connect with Mayor Goldring by calling 905-335-7607, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, online and on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Subscribe to Mayor Goldring’s monthly newsletter by emailing email@example.com.
This column appears in the Feb. 10, 2017 edition of the Burlington Post.