Jeff Heuchert, Gazette staff
Stratford's new economic development corporation is beginning to take shape.
Council last week agreed on a composition for a board of directors that will see representation from a wide range of economic sectors.
But despite repeated warnings from economic development chair Frank Mark of the board becoming too large and unmanageable, councillors approved two additional positions in an attempt to broaden its eligibility.
The board, whose responsibility will be to guide the development of strategic partnerships that foster economic growth in the city, will consist of representatives from the following sectors: digital media/creative economy, agriculture, manufacturing, technology, banking/financial, small business and education. It will also consist of a representative from Festival Hydro, one general citizen, the mayor, two members of council and, in a non-voting role, the chief administrative officer.
Board members do not have to be eligible voters in the city, which CAO Ron Shaw recommended because “the corporation will be involved in helping Stratford excel in the regional and global economy with interests and interactions beyond our city boundaries.”
Mark added the city wants “to make sure we can attract the best people to sit on this board” and not “restrict ourselves to any great degree.”
The board positions for small business (which economic development officer Randy Mattice said constitutes anywhere from five to 25 employees) and general citizen were last-minute additions.
Coun. Paul Nickel had asked for representation from either a downtown business or a member of the City Centre Committee specifically, noting, “we have a jewel in our downtown here and I think they need representation on this as an important part of the economic development in the city.”
But other councillors argued the position shouldn’t be so defined.
“Regardless of downtown, uptown, around town, we need small business (represented),” said Coun. Tom Clifford.
Similarly, Coun. Kerry McManus requested the general citizen position so that individuals who don’t fit into any one of the specified sectors can still participate if they wish.
Council will now establish a nominating committee composed of mayor Dan Mathieson and three members of council who will identify, evaluate and recommend appointments to the board. The committee will seek out candidates while Festival Hydro will provide nominations.
Mark said finding the economic development corporation’s president/CEO, who will be appointed by council on a recommendation from the board, will be top priority once the board has been finalized.