Beginning in early January and, through public consultation and a number of additional special meetings, Kingston City Council set out its five strategic priorities through 2022, which they affirmed and approved an implementation plan for at their meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
Today, we’ll explore the projects within their 4th priority: #4: Strengthen economic development opportunities. Council has outlined seven items that fall within this category:
- Support new and existing businesses. Council hopes to accomplish this by redefining the roles that both the City and Kingston Economic Development take in attraction and aftercare for new businesses, as well as how each support existing businesses. This will include a new service agreement between the two organizations with clearer roles and responsibilities defined and dedicated City Staff to support their newly outlined role.
- Foster Innovative arts, culture and social enterprises. City Staff is going to complete an inventory of creative industries in Kingston to learn how they can be better supported and how the sector can be enhanced, then will review available city-owned space and roadblocks to help foster social enterprise. This work and report is expected in 2020 and will be funded through existing capital and operating budgets.
- Create and facilitate innovation hubs. This work includes a business plan for an innovation hub based in the clean/green technology and bio-technology sector, which the city is envisioning as a public/private partnership. Council also hopes to facilitate the creation of a healthcare innovation hub in partnership with Queen’s University at Innovation Park. Both of these plans are expected no later than 2020.
- Enable the establishment of a St. Lawrence College downtown campus. This project would be addressed in partnership with the college as well as Tourism Kingston and the Kingston Accommodation Partners to create a campus for the schools on hospitality, culinary and tourism programs, and may include use of city-owned facilities. This report on feasibility is expected later this year or early in 2020.
- Facilitate a deep water dock for cruise ships. Funded by $500,000 in the 2018 budget and working with Tourism Kingston, investigation into dredging and construction of a deep water dock is already ongoing. This report is expected back in 2020 and should outline proposed locations and additional funding required. The target date to open this new facility is 2022.
- Explore the feasibility of establishing rural business parks and associated services. A new rural economic development program would be integrated into the city’s overall strategy and will include a look at the feasibility of rural business parks. Staff anticipates having this research and integration plan completed by 2021 and funds have already been allocated in the 2019 capital budget to complete it.
- Invest in innovative workforce development and in-migration strategies. The city has already created a Workforce Development and In-Migration Strategy, so staff is looking to implement this during the current term of council with a goal of attracting skilled workforce to fill existing gaps, and retaining students following graduation and mid-career talent. The city has already sought $2 million in grant funding for these projects. Staff is also looking to find some options to attract additional physicians to the city and will report in 2020 what this project will cost.
Work on all five of the strategic priorities is tracked by the CAO’s office and reported back to council quarterly. As these reports are completed, we’ll provide updates on their progress.
This is the fourth of a five-part series looking at the projects the city has listed as part of their 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Part 5, focusing on fostering healthy citizens and vibrant spaces will be available next week. You can also read part 1 on increasing housing affordability, part 2 on improving walkability, roads and transportation and part 3 on demonstrating leadership on climate action.
Born and raised in Kingston, Tommy Vallier bleeds limestone. An avid council watcher since 2004, he first began reporting on municipal affairs in 2011, helping to modernize meetings and make them more accessible through social media and live video. When he isn’t focused on City Hall, he’s an avid gamer, theatre supporter, and Disney fan.