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The plans and people behind the Kingston Economic Recovery Team

Photo by Kelly Sikkema.

Mayor Bryan Paterson has now shared the details of the new ‘Kingston Economic Recovery Team’ (KERT) he announced on April 28, 2020 including the participants, mandate and structure.

The team, which will be chaired by Mayor Paterson and have eight additional representatives from a variety workforce sectors across the city, will also be joined by a special advisor from KFL&A Public Health. They will also receive ongoing staff support from both the City of Kingston and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

“I will ensure that the health of our community is always at the forefront of our decision making,” noted Dr. Kieran Moore, who will serve as special advisor. “The Committee will have to take proportionate efforts to re-open our economy with continuing to protect and promote the health of the community.”

At its core, the mandate and vision of the new team is to coordinate the short- and long-term responses aimed at helping Kingston’s businesses survive, guide the local economy to a “new normal,” and develop the vision for economic development in our region based on realities and opportunities that emerge.

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with the City and community partners in this important recovery effort,” said Karen Cross, Chief Executive Director of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. “These are very difficult times for everyone, especially our businesses and not-for-profit members, their employees and their employees’ families. We have every confidence that we will emerge from this crisis stronger together.”

The Plan

The Kingston Economic Recovery Team (KERT) cites a number of goals, all with a focus on the recovery of the local economy during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, including the support of existing work being done by the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area, and Tourism Kingston.

“Kingston’s food and accommodation sector has been especially impacted and represents nearly nine per cent of the city’s workforce,” said Megan Knott, Executive Director of Tourism Kingston, noting that the tourism industry has been particularly hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“The health community and the whole community has done a phenomenal job dealing with the virus, now we need to do an equally good job at recovering our local economy,” said Doug Ritchie, Managing Director of the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area. “Especially small local businesses.”

The team also plans to consolidate research and data pertinent to our region, develop recommendations and solutions for implementation by local agencies or businesses, and to develop and advocate for Kingston-specific solutions which can be forwarded to other levels of government for consideration and funding. In doing its work, the team hopes to be collaborative and ensure the local strategy remains in alignment with federal and provincial guidelines, as well as local KFL&A Public Health guidelines.

The KERT will operate as a community working group and will meet “at the call of the chair,” with meetings expected to be virtual until in-person meetings can be arranged. The group is being established for one year, with renewal for additional years possible.

In addition to having the ability for other experts or partners to participate, the KERT can also create additional working groups and committees as required. Recommendations and financial consideration will be developed and presented to City Council or other appropriate boards or organizations on an on-going basis, instead of at the end of its mandate, to expedite implementation.

Meetings of the KERT are expected to be “open,” and ongoing work to communicate with and engage the public on its work is expected.

Though no budget is being established for the KERT, financial requests may come forward as recovery tools, depending on the recommendations from the group. These would need approval from the organization they’re requested of and would be in addition to staffing and communication support from the City and Kingston EcDev.

“We are proud to offer our organization as a key resource and administrative support. Our Board and staff are committed to supporting the Mayor’s Team as we work together to limit the negative impact of COVID-19 on Kingston’s economy,” said Donna Gillespie, Chief Executive Director of Kingston EcDev.

The Kingston Economic Recovery Team is expected to meet for the first time in the coming days.

The Team

Participants in the Kingston Economic Recover Team were selected through consultation with existing business support organizations. The makeup of the team was designed to feature a mix of local industries.

Mayor Bryan Paterson
Chair, Public Sector
First elected Mayor in 2014, Paterson has been a Kingstonian since 2000 when he moved to the city to complete his Master’s and PhD in Economics at Queen’s University. In addition to his role as Mayor, Paterson is an assistant professor at the Royal Military College.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health, KFL&A Public Health
Special Advisor, Public Health
Dr. Moore received his Medical degree from the University of Ottawa as well as specialty certifications in Family Medicine and Emergency medicine from the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Among his other credentials, Dr. Moore holds Master’s degrees in Disaster Medicine and Public Health, as well as a diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. He is also a professor and program director with Queen’s University.

Lanie Hurdle, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Kingston
Public Sector
Hurdle has more than two decades of municipal sector experience. She joined the City of Kingston in 2006 and has advanced through the corporation, including eight years as Commissioner of Community Services prior to her role as CAO.

Tim Pater, Owner/Operator, Black Dog Hospitality Group
Restaurant Sector
Pater is currently in his third term and is the current chair of the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area Board. Pater is also a former member of the Tourism Kingston Board and has been actively engaged in the local food movement.

Aba Mortley, Owner, Cher-Mère Day Spa
Personal Services Sector
Mortley is the current Chair of the Tourism Kingston Board, the Co-Chair of the Queen’s University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity and a 20-year volunteer with Youth Diversion. She holds an undergraduate degree from Queen’s University and a Master’s and PhD from the Royal Military College.

Susan St. Clair, General Manager, Cataraqui Centre
Retail Sector
St. Clair has served in management with the Cataraqui Centre since it opened in 1982 and its general manager for more than 25 years, including the direction of four major expansions. She is a certified marketing director and a member of the International Council of Shopping Centres.

Sean Billing, Owner, Frontenac Club
Accommodation Sector
Billing’s 30-year hospitality career has seen him serve in executive roles through Canada, the United States, and Africa. He is currently the Chair of the Eastern Ontario Regional Tourism Organization and serves on the board for the Regional Tourism Organization for Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington. Billing is also a participant in the Tourism Skillsnet Ontario and St. Lawrence College Tourism Advisory boards.

Bhavana Varma, President and CEO, United Way KFL&A
Non-Profit/Charitable Sector
Varma has served at President and CEO of United Way KFL&A since 1999 and was the founding co-chair of the Southeastern Association of Fundraising Professionals. She is currently a member of the United Way of Canada Movement Advisory Council, is on the Kingston Symphony Association Board and is the Chair of the Ending Youth Homelessness Initiative.

Dan Corcoran, Owner/President, Corcoran Excavating Ltd.
Construction Sector
Corcoran has been the General Manager Corcoran Excavating since 1985 and is the son of the company founder. He is a past president of the Kingston Construction Association and has represented the association at the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association since 2010.

Tricia Baldwin, Director, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts
Cultural Sector
Baldwin holds an undergraduate degree in Music from the University of Toronto and her M.B.A. from the Schulich School of Business at York University where she is also a member of the Arts and Media Advisory Board. She is the co-founder of the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts and the founder behind the Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival.

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