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Retail, value-added occupy TEDC: investment from retail sign of confidence in market.

Timmins economic development officials say that about 1,300 to 1,500 direct jobs were created from their strategic community and economic plan over the past five years.

Dave McGirr, president of Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) and manager Christy Marinig say there was increased activity in mining exploration, expanded retail and community development projects.

Now they want to build upon their success and "move from strategy to tactics," says McGirr, through their strategic plan called "Building Our Future."

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Business retention and expansion (BR+E), along with value-added products are a key part of the five-prong plan to attract investment.

It includes setting up a business out-reach program, hiring a value-added research co-ordinator, developing a business mentoring program, revisiting the existing five-year-old strategic plan, and a sustainable energy program.

A variety of organizations are sponsoring the plan. The Business Outreach initiative was launched in co-operation with The Venture Centre, TEDC, the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, and the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

Its goals are to understand the capabilities and influence of local businesses and how they can expand. "The most significant contribution to the Timmins economy is made by our existing businesses," Gerry Talbot, chair of The Venture Centre said in a TEDC release. "When they develop and expand, Timmins grows." Business Online, a free Internet directory listing products and services of local businesses, is being updated and promoted as well.

Marinig wants to enhance the city's role as a regional centre for northeastern Ontario. By investing in retail attraction, it may bring in more people from the outlying regions.

"Our focus is on retail development and expansion."

One indicator is the current expansion of retail space in the Timmins Square shopping centre. By moving into the former Wal-Mart store, Sears will be tripling its space from 44,000 to 109,000 square feet, says Brenda Johnson, property manager for Rio Can, which owns the 70-store mall.

A Sport Chek, Winners store and a new mall entrance will occupy the previous space once Sears is moved by early October of this year.

Johnson believes the addition of retail stores shows they have confidence in the Timmins market.

Currently, Sears employs approximately 63 full- and part-time staff. Although the number of employees to be hired is undetermined at this point, Sears store manager Edith Brown says they will have a job fair in mid July to hire for the fall.

It's not all shopping and storefronts

Besides retail investment, Marinig said they intend to do research on five to 10 value-added opportunities in mining and forestry that small entrepreneurs can develop in Timmins.

"Our goal is to look at mini-feasibility studies that we would disseminate to the public to encourage and stimulate entrepreneurs to investigate these ideas further and take them into full business plans."

Although no specific date was provided, Marinig says the first study may be out before this issue of Northern Ontario Business hits the street.

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The city is also performing a land use study to identify four areas for industrial space. Janet Ronne, senior planner with the City of Timmins, says the study was a proactive approach to encourage economic development for businesses and industry that want to locate in the city.

The report is in its final stage. Once it receives approval from council, it will be made available for public review.

Ronne says the next step is to provide those areas with the road service.

www.timmins.ca

By ADELLE LARMOUR

Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:TIMMINS
Author:Larmour, Adelle
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Jul 1, 2005
Words:585
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