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Ideas abound: City plans implementation of some of the 468 ideas from brainstorming sessions. (Timmins & Cochrane).

After a brief summer lull, participants in Timmins' ongoing community-based strategic plan are ready to act in the final phase of implementing some local quality-of-life projects and economic development initiatives.

Clara Ferrari, a Timmins economic development officer who is overseeing the exercise, says although many of the public ideas put forward last year remain works in progress, just the opportunity to gather like-minded professionals around a table to talk about local issues represents an accomplishment in itself.

"There's been an opportunity for people to work together to maximize efficiencies," says Ferrari. "If nothing else, we've gotten industry and community groups working together for the first time."

The strategic plan initiative, known as Building Our Future, is an exercise aimed at identifying solutions to the city's economic and social woes by devising a blueprint for diversification.

Individual projects will begin to take shape over the next few months, she says. However, some long-term initiatives still remain in the research stage.

After last year's public brainstorming sessions, sector working groups were organized and began prioritizing some ideas for research.

Ferrari says it has taken some time for volunteers to wade through 468 ideas, determine their feasibility, then whittle them down to a top half-dozen projects for each group. More than 80 community volunteers are doing the bulk of the research in these sector groups which involve cornerstone industries such as mining and forestry, and also small-business support services, telecommunications and tourism.

Ferrari says some committees are very well organized, having already implemented some ideas by encouraging better co-ordination between bodies in health and social services, as well as in the education sector. The strategic plan succeeded in bringing together all area school boards and colleges to direct education across the whole city.

A needs-assessment task force of the human-services group is working on a funding proposal for a study to identify any gaps or duplication of services that currently exist in the system. A transportation group is assembling a directory to provide information to residents, tourists and potential investors on what transportation services are available in the city. Another top-priority project is investigating the establishment of a special needs school in Timmins for children with disabilities.

To help new business, a finance, insurance and real estate group has made some strides at city hall in reducing red tape by fast-tracking the issuance of business licences for start-ups. Instead of entrepreneurs waiting months to chase after approvals from various federal, provincial and municipal agencies, the city provides entrepreneurs with the option of letting the city do the routing for them, while issuing a temporary licence to open their business sooner.
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Title Annotation:economic development
Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
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