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Our Dreams for Niagara

Niagara is a beautiful yet complicated beast. Our economic development landscape is dissected by a complex series of over lapping boundaries. We have five municipal cities with their own economic development office and seven other municipalities that are serviced by the Niagara Economic Development Corporation (NEDC), a non-profit corporation with a mandate to advance the economic prosperity of the Niagara region as a whole.

There are nine different Chambers of Commerce representing 'the voice' of business in Niagara. We have eight utility providers who deliver hydro services within territorial jurisdictions that the average consumer can Google for hours without figuring out.

Niagara is home to the St. Catharines and Area Arts Council and a multitude of other Art Associations. We have a variety of different heritage organizations in each of our individual municipalities and we also have a Niagara Culture Committee that reports to our Integrated Community Planning Committee that in turn advises our Niagara Regional Council.

I could go on but we have all heard the rant over and over again in many different forms.

My question is what are we going to do about it? I don't know about you but I for one love our beautiful beast and believe that change occurs through a slow, patient process of harnessing our individual concerns and converting them into an avalanche of collective willpower.

There are some wonderful examples of more cohesive strategies emerging throughout Niagara.

The Regional Tourism Partnership of Niagara is forging ahead to establish the framework for an integrated regional approach to destination marketing in Niagara. All nine Chambers of Commerce met as a policy group this past week and on March 25th will be jointly hosting Regional Chair, Gary Bourrough's inaugural State of the Region address. On March the 10th our regional council will debate the status of economic development in Niagara as it reviews the future mandate of the Niagara Economic Development Corporation.

In Pelham, on March the 8th at 7pm, Brock University and Cafe on Main are providing us with the opportunity to collectively explore our Dreams of Niagara by participating in a Conversation Cafe. Brock has organized a total of eleven such events throughout Niagara between February 7th and May 16th.

The format is a conversation recognizing that no single person has the whole answer but rather that everyone has something important to contribute. I hope to see you there and look forward to learning from your perspective.

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