Hundreds gather to network at Niagara Economic Summit

It’s an event where community business leaders gather to share ideas and network. 

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce held the Niagara Economic Summit at White Oakes in Niagara-on-the-Lake on this rainy Friday.

Former Chair of the GNCC and President of the Thornton Group Neil Thornton welcomed the crowd saying the key to moving Niagara forward is a strong vision and a sense of urgency. 

The first 'Power Talk' panel included controversial Niagara Region CAO Carmen D’Angelo, Brock Associate Professor in Geography Dr. Jeffs Boggs, Farah Huq from Deloitte, Ursula Gobel with SSHRC and Stephanie Thompson an engineer in Niagara who runs the FIRST robotics school program.

The panel was asked about tomorrow’s reality and trends to watch for.

Moderator Del Rollo asked the panel what they were doing within their agency to adopt best practices to stay current with emerging trends. 

D’Angelo, who participated in the panel just hours after a controversial vote was held at Niagara Council over his planned trip to China told the crowd the Niagara Region is focusing on making sure public transit and affordable housing are available to attract and retain our next generation of the work force.

CKTB’s Bonnie Heslop interviewed D’Angelo on other topics including his controversial contract.

Gobel told the crowd that the fastest growing diverse workforce is the Indigenous population and we must do more the ensure aboriginal employees feel welcome. 

Rollo’s final question to the panel was what current trend kept them up at night.

Dr. Boggs says climate change is very concerning and he’s worried about the lack of political action. 

He says he feels bad for the future generation and then received giggles from the crowd for being a bummer.

D’Angelo says he is worried about immigration policies in the United States saying when you see what’s happening across the border he’s hoping anti-immigration trends will not spill into Canada. 

The CAO says the only upside is that American companies may decide to relocate in Niagara. 

Bruce MacDonald who is the CEO of Imagine Canada, a national charitable organization was a guest speaker.

He made a presentation about the future of giving saying our future generation is less generous and we need to find ways to engage younger donors. 

He predicts that by 2026 the social deficit will be 25 million.

MacDonald says one of the issues current families are having is that they donate online and don’t have a conversation with their children about how important giving is.

Dr. Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce was a key note speaker and shared ideas on business investment in Canada. 

He says international companies like that Canada is easy to start up a company, but the cost of electricity and red tape over permits continues to be an issue.

He pointed out that Canada needs to do better on cross border trade, and joked that we can’t even legally cross provincial borders with cases of beer.

For more information on the Chamber and guests at today's event click here.