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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

BALSOM: Summit aims to bust Niagara’s economic myth

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Niagara’s leaders in business, government, non-profits and community agencies will convene again for this year’s Niagara Economic Summit, hosted by Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce at White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa.

The summit will dive into myths and misconceptions about Niagara’s economy. A range of panellists and speakers from business, government and non-profits will bring out the truth about Niagara’s most pressing economic concerns.

We are pleased to welcome Jeremy Amin, regional manager of Global Operations Properties at GE Canada, as our keynote speaker. He will speak to what brought General Electric to Niagara and what made Niagara a winning proposition for its new Brilliant plant — and how Niagara can replicate that success by attracting other businesses.

The first theme to be explored is Niagara’s job market. Some say it’s a slack labour environment and that it’s hard to find work here. Others believe Niagara has plenty of jobs if you know where to look, and the biggest problem is employers can’t find good people.

Do we have too many people without jobs, and/or too many jobs without people?

Helmut Pastrick, chief economist of Central 1 Credit Union and editor of Economic Analysis of Ontario and Economic Analysis of British Columbia, will deliver a plenary address on the labour market, then join a panel of experts who will attempt to answer this burning question.

The summit will also dive into the question of the skills gap — aiming to establish whether it’s real and if so, what its extent and nature are. About 56 per cent of Niagara’s workforce has a post-secondary education. But is it the right one?

A panel of experts from diverse backgrounds including recruiting agencies, major human resource departments, trades education and organized labour will join plenary speaker David Tsubouchi, president of the Ontario College of Trades, on this subject.

Finally, the subject of the millennial generation will be addressed. In Niagara, 37,400 workers are in the 15 to 24 age bracket. Do we know how to engage them?

Educators, entrepreneurs and community leaders will investigate what makes millennials tick, and how there’s good business in hiring and marketing to that generation. Brand Blvd. vice-president Chris Sinclair will explain how his business prospered with both.

For anyone interested in Niagara’s economy and the future of business in the region, this is one event that cannot be missed.

For a complete list of speakers, further information, and to register for the summit, visit

— Mishka Balsom is CEO and president of Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.

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