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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Niagara’s economic growth expected to slow

Report says rising interest rates, stricter mortgage rules and tariffs are acting as dampers

Niagara can expect its economic growth to slow somewhat this year, the Conference Board of Canada says in its latest report.

The forecast is for real GDP to expand by 1.2 per cent in 2018 and 1.4 per cent in 2019. Declining new home construction is a drag on the economy of St. Catharines-Niagara, although “decent” non-residential activity will offset that decline and allow the overall construction sector to grow at what was described as a healthy rate.

That growth, however, will trail most Ontario’s medium-sized cities, except for Greater Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

“Our growth is moderate, and at a steady pace — and that’s a fair assessment of our economy,” said Mishka Balsom., president and CEO of Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. She said Niagara is fairing better than in the past, but is slightly behind the provincial average.

“We have lost key industry and have had a decline in employment in key sectors; but, at the same time, other sectors are growing,” she said.

“There has been a shift to small- and mid-size manufacturing that has allowed us to hold our own, and we are seeing expansions in areas such as wineries and tourism that didn’t have 20 years ago. The economy in Niagara is changing, and I think there is a readiness to support that change.”

The statistic she would like to see climb in Niagara is home construction.

“That would be an indication that some of the issues we are having are being addressed, including the low availability of rental properties and the affordable housing crisis.”

Balsom said the announcement of daily GO Train service in the coming years has increased the awareness of Niagara as a community that will be accessible with public transportation, and that can only help.

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