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Consultants say North Bay is competitive.

Consultants say North Bay is competitive

More than 25 mining-related manufacturing companies call North Bay home, despite the obvious lack of a producing mine in the area.

This fact, however, is far from odd, according to Rick Evans, manager of the economic development department for the City of North Bay.

Evans explained that manufacturing companies traditionally search for the most cost-effective and easily accessible location to begin operations.

According to Evans, North Bay is the clear choice in that respect. He explained that, through his discussions with new and existing firms, there has been a definite indication that the department's "four-L" (location, labor force, available land and lifestyle) marketing plan is on target.

The economic development manager explained that North Bay has quick access to Ontario's mining communities as well as to corporate head offices in Toronto.

"There is an absolute myriad of reasons for a company to locate in North Bay," said Evans. "A reasonably priced labor force is another example."

Evans said the strategy of mining-related companies to locate in North Bay has been apparent since 1941, when the Craig brothers, Robert and Ernest, started the Craig Bit Company (now called Kenroc).

As of September of last year, Kenroc employed approximately 200 people in North Bay, approximately 14 per cent of the city's labor force.

Evans said that mining-related manufacturing firms are responsible for employing about 1,500 people in the city and area.

According to North Bay economic development officals, the results of a 1987 study identifying North Bay as the most competitive city in Northern Ontario have helped the city expand its manufacturing sector.

Commissioned by the city and conducted by Woods Gordon, the study is used as a promotional tool for attracting manufacturing firms.

Evans said the study's result remain a good reflection of the economic situation in North Bay.

Evans said the study supported what city officials knew all along. "We are obviously biased. However, the study was purely objective," he said.

The study was commissioned on the understanding that if North Bay was competitive, then light manfuacturing could become a "key target" for the city's future economic development.

The authors of the study examined three additional Northern Ontario communities - Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay - and seven southern Ontario communities - Chatham, Cornwall, Peterborough, Owen Sound, Ottawa, Brantford and Scarborough.

The authors of the study explained that the list provided a good spectrum of communities in terms of size (20,000 to 300,000), industrial mix and geographical size.

"In our experience we have noted that firms considering an Ontario location divide into two groups. Those for whom a Toronto location is a 'must' because of proximity to supply and market, and those who prefer to locate outside Toronto outside Toronto to escape high land and labor costs."

The North Bay light manufacturing study was directed at the latter group.

The factors compared in the study included ware rates and the availability of skilled and semi-skilled labor, the estimated percentage of the industrial/manufacturing workforce that is unionized, industrial land availability and costs, transportation, industrial taxes, average house prices and local community colleges with training facilities.

In total, 25 variables were examined for the study.

WELL POSITIONED

As a result, North Bay was identified as "extremely wellpositioned, relative to competing communities, with respect to its competitive advantages in attracting light-manufacturing industry."

Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Sudbury were ranked fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

Following the results of the comparison phase of the study, the second phase was initiated by the city and completed approximately six months later.

Evans said the second phase entailed the identification and pursuit of specific industries and firms for a light-manufacturing industry promotional strategy.

"The first phase was used as a promotional tool, the second was more of a business tool to be used internally," said Evans.

According to Evans, the study has played a large role in attracting manufacturers to North Bay.

He reported that other factors include support from local government, as well as federal and provincial incentive programs.
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Title Annotation:North Bay Report; North Bay, Ontario
Author:McDougall, Douglas
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Words:674
Previous Article:Drilling program started in Fort Frances area.
Next Article:Kenroc expanding and modernizing to increase presence in Europe, U.S.
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