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City looks to opportunities in data storage.

Even as Timmins' future is starting to shine brighter with the glint of gold and nickel, there is no reason for the community to rest on its laurels.

Timmins' recently elected mayor Vic Power is no stranger to the comfortably large mayor's office on Algonquin Blvd. First elected to the mayor's seat in 1980, he has witnessed a number of highs and lows for the community over the last two decades.

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His return to the seat last November, following a three-year hiatus, is coming at a time when the forestry industry, that serves as one of the cornerstones of the Timmins economy, is struggling under crippling trade actions from south of the border. However, another cornerstone, mining, is at the start of a renaissance of sorts.

"Timmins is fortunate as a district centre for retail, medical and professional services, as well as the centre for supply and services to the forestry and mining industries," Power says. "Those kinds of businesses employ a lot of people in Timmins."

"There's a real sense of enthusiasm around Timmins," says Timmins Economic Development Corp. (TEDC) president Dave McGirr. "We've been tremendously successful over the last few years, with things like the expansion of Teletech as an example of our success."

McGirr and TEDC manager Christy Marinig agree the $12-million Discover Abitibi is resulting in a definite increase in exploration and economic activity in Timmins.

The city is also looking at an initiative that would make Timmins a location of choice for data storage. Marinig says 9/11 resulted not only in tragic loss of life, but reams of data vital to companies with offices in the Twin Towers.

"We have the telecommunications technology to become a centre of off-site data storage," says Marinig. "The area is stable geologically; it has a stable climate. There are a number of advantages to remote data storage here."

Efforts are also underway through existing post-secondary institutions like Northern College and College Boreal to provide more university-level education, she says. With the use of teleconferencing technology and the Internet, students do not need to travel out of the community to study, and some may even find incentive to come to cities like Timmins to study, Marinig says.

Power says Northern Ontario is an excellent choice for increased industrial development and decentralization of government services because of its benefits of available resources and access to transportation routes, improved electronic infrastructure and the amount of available land for development.

Power says the city is planning a series of town hall forums to discuss Timmins' financial status and to develop a five-year business plan.

"By the first week of March, we plan to have the financial data for the city for 2003 to present to the public to show them where we are, where we're going and to get their input as well," he says.

www.city.timmins.on.ca

By ANDREW WAREING

Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:Timmins Report
Author:Wareing, Andrew
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:486
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