June 26, 2018
by Chris Dube, Welland Tribune
Welland doesn’t waste any time getting new businesses up and running in the city, according to the municipality’s director of economic development, Dan Degazio.
As new large-scale operations such as General Electric, Northern Gold Foods, Welded Tube Canada and a few others take over the industrial park near Highway 140 and Ridge Road, the city’s head recruit for new companies said a major factor in the appeal to operate locally is the streamlined process currently in place for building permits.
Degazio said the team at city hall is second to none in the province.
“We’ve always professed we have the best development team in Ontario right now,” said Degazio in a recent interview.
“We can get people off the ground quicker, faster and more efficiently than any other community,” he added.
With some local governments in the Greater Toronto Area, it can take anywhere from 18 months to two years for companies to get the necessary approvals to begin building.
The City of Welland has been able to streamline its process by providing permits to industrial and commercial operations in less than three months.
“We target three months, but we can get them through the process sometimes in six weeks,” said Degazio.
He said Mayor Frank Campion and council have been supportive of the efforts being made by staff, a main reason hundreds of jobs have resulted from the work related to the industrial area.
“Our mayor is very progressive, and he likes to see things move,” said Degazio.
Looking well into the future is also a key approach — not rushing to find the best “low-hanging fruit,” he said.
“I don’t think about what happens next week. I’m worried what’s happening in five years.”
He feels Welland is leading by example through its drive to make the approval process a pleasurable one and is seen in the development community as a place of opportunity.
“If you’re not proactive, you’re not going to be in the game,” he said.
This energetic and efficient approach is what’s drawing new ventures into Welland and the rest of Niagara.
“We’re getting attraction from people who wouldn’t normally come over the Burlington Skyway,” said Degazio.
Other amenities in the city such as Welland International Flatwater Centre and a recently-opened skatepark are also inviting as families relocate to the area, he feels.
“The landscape is changing and they’re also getting a recreation component they didn’t expect,” said Degazio.
As space becomes more limited in the industrial area of Welland through companies acquiring land within its boundaries, the need for another park will be addressed through a large portion of industry-ready land on River Road.
“We’ve got a lot of hits on it already.”