Sarnia taking charge of its own economic development

Finding new attractions and opportunities for Sarnia’s waterfront will be a top priority for Sarnia’s new economic development office. Glenn Ogilvie file photo

Troy Shantz

Sarnia is preparing to open its own office of economic development.

The new office and its yet-to-be hired manager will focus on growth opportunities for city-owned assets, said Sarnia’s manager of community services.

The objective is drumming up investor interest, Stacey Forfar said.

“How can we really drive that business and investment decision-making framework into City Hall? It’s sort of a bridge between the private sector and the public sector.”

The manager position will be posted soon and aggressively recruited this fall, with the hope of filling it by year-end, she said.

Sarnia’s economic development office will seek foreign and Canadian investment for municipal assets to create new jobs, Forfar said.

“Sarnia has a lot to offer. There’s a fantastic quality of life here.”

Service agreements are being drafted up with the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership and Tourism Sarnia-Lambton.

Hiring a manager for the Office of Economic Development, setting up the space, and providing seed money is expected to cost the city $250,000.

The manager’s first job will be to implement a recently completed economic development strategy, which was presented to council in September.

The 120-page study, prepared by MDB Insight, identifies six city-owned assets and rated them according to their future economic importance.

Two of them, the waterfront, and the Research and Business Park with its bio-industrial potential, had “the greatest ability to ensure Sarnia’s economy transitions prosperously over the next several decades,” the $94,000 report states.

Ranked lower priorities are Sarnia Harbour, Andrew S. Brant Marina, the 402 Business Park, and Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport.

The consultants have advised the city divest itself of the airport, which has experienced a steep revenue decline this year and exhausted its capital reserves.