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City leaders adopt more aggressive attitude.

City leaders adopt more aggressive attitude

After six years as chairman of the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, Jean-Paul Aube is more optimistic than ever about the prospects for the city.

"This is the most exciting year because things are coming together," he says, noting that over the past 10 years all types of economic possibilities have been discussed.

Aube has complimentary words about the leadership being shown by Mayor Dennis Welin.

"What makes the difference in a community is the leadership shown by the mayor, council and the economic development corporation," he says.

There has been a major change of attitude in Timmins and economic development is now aggressively pursued, he explains.

Aube also notes that the corporation's budget has been doubled this year, marking the first time the city's leaders have decided to invest in the future.

"That's the new attitude," he adds.

Aube says it was very frustrating for the first four or five years that he was involved with the corporation.

However, he now sees that the city's leaders are committed and aggressively involved in the process, along with the business community.

"That's what makes a community click."

Noting that the city is competing with four other cities in Northern Ontario, he says, "We want to start being aggressive in pursuing companies that might want to locate in Timmins."

However, Aube admits it has been difficult to get people in Timmins involved, since the city has not faced an economic crisis like Sudbury or Sault Ste. Marie.

Timmins is economically stable but does not have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for things to happen, he warns.

One of the overall goals of the corporation is to improve the quality of life in the city, thereby making the community better able to attract skilled tradesmen and professionals, such as doctors and nurses for the new Timmins and District Hospital.

Aube says the new hospital, which by the time it is complete will cost close to $90 million, will also help to strengthen Timmins' role as a regional centre.

Among the other economic advances he sees in the city is the rejuvenation of the underground gold mine tour.

He also believes the city has a good future in the mining and forestry sectors, noting that the cycles for the industries are not the same.

"There's already a diversification in the resources we have now," he says.

The corporation is also involved in a study of opportunities for the airport.

There have been a number of changes at the airport, such as the withdrawal of jet service by Air Canada and the establishment of Air Creebec.

"We still see there's a lot of potential because we're a regional centre," says Aube of the airport.

The chairman says, once the corporation identifies an opportunity, it has an excellent record of following through, noting that there has not been a feasibility which was not implemented.

The EDC itself is undergoing changes as a new manager has been hired to replace the late Jim Reid.

"Jim Reid is a major loss," says Mayor Dennis Welin, noting he was a strong supporter of the city's economic development and laid the foundation for future growth.

The new manager is Bruce Strapp, the former economic development officer with the Red Lake Economic Development Corporation.

Strapp, who was one of 13 applicants for the position, assumed his duties in early August.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," he says.

Strapp notes that the northwestern and northeastern regions of the province share similar problems in economic development.

The move to Timmins also has a personal significance for Strapp, since he has relatives in the city. His father, a minister, moved to Timmins about 15 years ago.

Aube says Strapp was one of the few applicants who had the experience in economic development that the corporation was looking for.

Strapp will be encouraged to identify opportunities for secondary industries to establish in the city.

"They're job-creating and they help to diversify the economy," Aube says.

Welin says Strapp has a great deal of knowledge about Northern Ontario.

"I think he brings a strong degree of energy and a strong capability to see projects through."
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Title Annotation:Timmins Report; Timmins, Ontario
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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