If there is a single lesson to take from the recent NAFTA/USMCA negotiations, it is that an economy is vulnerable when it relies too much on a single trading partner, a single industry, or a single market. Economies that will survive and thrive in this uncertain climate will be those that are diverse.
Diversification is the key question at this year’s summit. How do we attract not just new businesses, but new industries? How do we diversify our workforce and our population? How do we build bridges between industries and sectors, and close the gaps between business, non-profits, and government? These questions, and more, will be tackled at the Summit. Big thinkers from inside Niagara and from without will attempt to identify where Niagara needs to go, and how it will get there.
The first session of the day will focus on trends, population shifts, employment, and what Niagara may and should look like tomorrow. Ursula Gobel, Associate VP of Future Challenges at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, will delivery a power talk and then join a panel of experts, including Brock University professor Dr. Jeff Boggs, an expert in population and industry mapping and trends, Exchange Brewery’s Robin Ridesic, a pioneer of Niagara’s craft beer industry, and engineer, STEM advocate and astronaut candidate Stephanie Thompson.
The second will be on collaboration between sectors and industries, and focus on how we can strengthen ourselves by working together and building partnerships in unlikely places. Bruce Macdonald, CEO of Imagine Canada, will speak, along with a panel of experts including Dr. Tom Stewart, the new CEO of the Niagara Health System, and Doug Hamilton, who became a household name in Niagara when he brought a diverse group of stakeholders together to lead a successful bid for the Canada Games.
The third is on attracting new industries, and the CBC’s Peter Armstrong will moderate a discussion from experts in business development and attraction including Niagara College School of Business and Management Associate Dean Dr. Justin Williams, Mike Kirkopoulos, CAO of the Town of Lincoln, Bill Elliot of Global Investment Attraction, and Dottie Gallagher, CEO of the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership.
Broader provincial and national perspectives will be given as well, with updates from the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce. Ashley Challinor, VP of Policy at the OCC, will deliver an update on their work over the last year and their thoughts for the next year in Ontario and Niagara, while Dr. Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, will deliver a talk on the broad Canadian economy and how it affects Niagara.
The event falls shortly after the municipal elections, and we hope that guidance will emerge for Niagara’s new governments which will help them form their plans for their term of office. The vision of the GNCC is to see Niagara at its social and economic best, and this year’s summit will drive that vision forward.
For tickets and further information, please visit niagaraeconomicsummit.ca
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in Niagara and the third-largest Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, with 1,600 members representing 50,000 employees. More information on the GNCC is available at gncc.ca.
Mishka Balsom, President & CEO of GNCC
Mishka@gncc.ca or 905-684-2361