News

Entrepreneurial approach pays off for Welland

by Dave Johnson, Welland Tribune

Welland isn’t sitting back and waiting for things to happen, not waiting for investors and new business to approach the city, and a 2017 report released Monday shows that, said Mayor Frank Campion.

“I think for years people thought, ‘It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.’ They sat by the phone, thinking maybe they’d get that phone call. I come from a very strong marketing background and that’s not how you make money,” said Campion as he spoke about Welland’s annual report.

“We’re much more entrepreneurial … we’re taking an entrepreneurial approach to marketing ourselves not only to investors and industry, but to residents in the community.”

Campion said the city is going after things, making sure it is known across all levels of government and making sure it’s part of the global economy.

“We’re global players now.”

He said the annual report shows the city’s progress and the direction it’s moving in and is part of the strategy of marketing itself and communicating more.

“It encapsulates, on a very high level, what occurred over the last year. We think it’s important to share that information with the public, the taxpayers here, as well as the broader community — potential investors and residents.”

Campion said the past has shown that 2016, when GE Canada announced its Brilliant Factory was to be built in Welland, wasn’t a fluke.

The report talks about the various community improvement plans, such as the Gateway Economic Zone, Brownfield, and Downtown and Health and Wellness Cluster, which provide various financial incentives and strategies to property owners, businesses and industry for different areas of the community.

It talks about Welland being part of Niagara’s Foreign Trade Zone, a status that allows companies to take advantage of incentives designed to make it easier and financially feasible to import and export products.

In 2017, 14 applications were approved for the Downtown and Health and Wellness Cluster CIP with grants totalling $767,017 for $6.59 million in project costs. The Brownfield CIP saw nine applications approved with $362,103 in grants for $7.05 million in project costs.

“We’re continuing our upwards movement in investment.”

In addition to going after new business and industry, Campion said the city is taking a very resident-centric approach, doing things to enhance the livability of the community.

“We’re investing more in infrastructure … providing better services in the community.”

Communication has been part of the city’s strategy and Campion said Welland is being smarter with how it communicates.

“We’re using different methods of reaching people across social media and using apps.”

The report said the city is implementing Honk Mobile this year, an app that allows people to pay parking fines without having to go to city hall. It also said Welland will launch a new public engagement platform that will allow the public to be heard through a user-friendly app.

Campion expects the successes of 2016 and 2017 will continue through 2018 and beyond.

“I think 2018 is going to be a spectacular year.”

The full report can be found online at www.welland.ca/HotTopics/AnnualReport.asp.