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Data centre among slate of projects.

With new projects on the horizon, 2003 looks promising for the City of Timmins.

The Timmins Economic Development Corp. (TEDC) has set a number of priorities for the year, including focusing on cold-weather testing, expanding educational opportunities, developing a data mining and storage centre, and continuing to support the local forestry and mining industries.

"Overall, I would say that 2003 looks very positive," says Christy Marinig, economic development officer, TEDC.

The City of Timmins is known for its snow and cold weather and the TEDC recognizes the weather conditions as a community strength. The possibilities and opportunities are end-less, Marinig says.

Rather than focus on one cold-weather-testing client, the TEDC hopes to develop a cold-weather testing facility that can be rented by clients. The idea has already generated some interest.

In education, the TEDC hopes to bring in more specialized trade schools and other programs.

"Especially with the double cohort, bringing 100 or 300 more students to the community will have an impact on the economy," adds Dave McGirr, chair of the TEDC.

In mining, there have been a number 6f up and coming projects, which have created a lot of interest from mining and exploration companies. Projects such as Discover Abitibi, Falconbridge's Mine D project and Montcalm, and increased exploration by Porcupine Joint Venture will invest millions of dollars in Timmins over the next few years.

"The mine data storage facilities can also create 30 to 50 jobs in the community," says Marinig.

"A new technologies industry, like data warehousing, would require the latest telecommunication infrastructure," says Mayor Jamie Lim. "We believe Timmins is an ideal location for these new sectors because our infrastructure can support large capacity data transmission and we have ample commercial property. We have partnered with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. to examine the feasibility of implementing a community-based broadband infrastructure. We plan to release the results of this study early in the new year. Advanced telecommunication infrastructure removes distance as a barrier."

In forestry, local companies have been investing in new equipment and future projects, which may enhance value-added product opportunities.

"Capital investment is always a good sign of a company's sustainability and long-term viability," says Mayor Lim.

The city will also see construction of the new $4.6-million library and the $7.36-million health coalition facility this spring and a new police facility in 2004.

The TEDC is also working with the Timmins Chamber of Commerce on a biotechnology initiative.

"There has been funding made available to develop a biotechnology strategy," adds Marinig. "It could encompass so many things. The strategy will be based on strengths in the region. Research needs to be conducted into what types of products we could create. It will be studied over the summer."

The city is also focusing on marketing strategies. A new community brand has been developed, which includes a new slogan, 'a bold vision, a bright, future,' and bright modern logo.

"The City of Timmins has taken a lead role in the development of the Northeastern Regional Tourism Network, which is a working relationship between the tourism entities in communities from Hearst all the way south to New Liskeard and Chapleau," adds the mayor. "As well, discussions are ongoing with the Shania Twain management team and we are optimistic that our favourite city ambassador will be visiting sometime in 2003. In February, Tourism Timmins will also be unveiling the My Hometown marketing campaign."

As for challenges, Mayor Lim says that with increased insurance premiums, heating and electricity costs, the City of Timmins faces the same challenges as any homeowner. However, council will work hard to keep tax increases to a minimum, both for residential and commercial properties.

Ranking projects and prioritizing has posed the greatest challenge for officials with the TEDC.

"There are a lot of good projects and it is a challenge on our resources. But we have to base our priorities on job creation and diversification," concludes Marinig.

"There was never a time our city had too much money and no challenges," says Lim. "But there have always been dedicated people working to overcome challenges and strengthen our community."
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Author:Riopelle, Maggie
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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