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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Niagara must be forward-thinking

On Oct. 26, the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) will host the 6th annual Niagara Economic Summit.

Previous summits looked at answering controversial questions around job market myths, the skills gap, and our infrastructure and public transit.

The summit is a key driver for Niagara initiatives. The event not only highlights concerns, but brings forward solutions.

As a result of our conversations on the skills gap and the job market, the GNCC headed a consortium of Niagara organizations to form Linking Niagara, which connects employers with government programs to help them hire and train. Our discussion around public transit highlighted a need for a unified transit system for Niagara, which is becoming a reality as municipal governments across the region work to implement it.

What is highlighted in the summit today becomes the policy for tomorrow.

This year’s summit focuses on that tomorrow. Niagara must be forward-thinking. We must plan for not only where we want to be at the end of our next strategic plan, or our next election cycle, but for where we want to be in years or even decades. We need to build a Niagara that will be prosperous not just for the next few years, but for the next few generations. A time of reflection on the last 150 years of our history is the perfect time to think about what we want the next 150 to look like.

The summit is divided into three sessions. At the first, entitled “Accelerating Innovation for Jobs and Growth,” a power talk delivered by IBM Canada’s director of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs Dave Robitaille will set the stage for a wide-ranging discussion on the future of innovation and the advances that Niagara needs to work on now to be prepared for the future.

With all eyes on our neighbour south of the border and the future of our trading relationship, the second session is on international trade in an uncertain time, at which a delegate from the Ministry of International Trade will address the audience and then join a panel of experts on the future of our trading relationship. As a key export region for wine, auto parts, and tourism, Niagara needs to be ahead of the curve on this question.

Finally, our last session looks at transformational change and the upheavals that will come in the next 150 years. Our power talk will be delivered by Len Diplock, senior vice-president of strategy at Canada Post – an organization that has weathered and adapted to tremendous changes over the last 150 years. He will be joined by some of Niagara’s leading thinkers and innovators to explore what long-term direction Niagara should be taking.

In recognition of Niagara’s dependence upon the larger economies in which it is situated, we will also be joined for a special update at the provincial and federal levels by Karl Baldauf, vice-president of policy and government relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and by Hendrik Brakel, senior director of economic, financial and tax policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, visit or or call us at 905-684-2362.

Mishka Balsom is the CEO and President of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC).

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