I firmly believe that one of the primary responsibilities of any Mayor, the Municipality’s Chief Executive Officer, is to create optimal conditions for economic growth in the city; conditions that leads to the attraction of public/private sector investment and the creation of jobs.
The primary reason is pretty obvious. Outside investment and good jobs drive growth in the city, and provide the municipality with the resources necessary to deliver the wide array of civic facilities, programs and services that we want for ourselves, our families, and our community.
However, investment and jobs also create a sense of pride in our own community, a heightened profile in other communities, the retention of key talent, and the invaluable sense of dignity that every one of our citizens feel when they get the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of oneself, one’s team, one’s employer and one’s community.
Investment and jobs also creates the fiscal wherewithal to support those who are unable to work, albeit temporary or permanent. It allows the community to take care of its own, a social covenant of ‘neighbours helping neighbours’ that draws people together knowing that we in effect ‘have each other’s backs’.
It follows then, that the Mayor must lead the city’s job creation and investment attraction agenda. This includes: a clear expression of his/her goals, a clear detailing of the strategies and structure charged with realizing these goals, and a clear delineation of the measures and monies required to deliver the strategic plan.
For example, London’s Mayor, in consultation with the city’s various economic development agencies, should set the following measurable, timely and achievable economic growth targets for the City.
- To attract xx,xxx net new full-time jobs to the city by, say, 2022.
- To attract $xx,xxx,xxx new private sector investment to the city by 2022.
- To attract $xx,xxx,xxx new public sector investment to the city by 2022.
- To restore London’s labour participation rate to over 60% by 2022.
- To build London’s brand as the national destination for the x sector.
Don’t worry, I plan to fill in the x’s with what I believe to be achievable by the end of my London Inc. series. It is also important to note that the above list is by no means absolute. The targets will evolve as the community’s needs evolve. For now, it is intended to show that economic development need not be complicated.
I should also add that I have no problem with the Mayor or any civic leader soliciting input from business on a direction for the city, both at the start of the strategic planning process, and throughout the implementation period. In fact, I continually seek the input of numerous business leaders from both inside and outside our community to help me in my current role(s) and with the designing of my future intentions.
However, at the end of the day, I believe that it is the Mayor’s job to set the economic development direction for the community, secure Council and the community’s support, and then relentlessly act as a servant of all those charged with realizing the plan’s goals.
After all, if the City’s CEO is not prepared to take the lead on such a key need for the city, then who is?