Sunday, May 1, 2011

Change - Midland's Economic Reality

Midland’s economy is changing. And while there is much discussion about the reason – everything from competition with China to the cost of oil – there is no doubt that change is occurring.

Midland issues building permits for all new construction and renovation. While looking at any one year can be misleading, a five year review shows where we are investing in new jobs. The annual value of building permits for the period 2003 to 2007:

            Residential -                 $88.6 million
            Commercial -              $35.1 million
            Institutional –                $47.7 million
            Industrial  -                   $5.4 million
We are moving from an industrial to a service economy.

The Huronia Business Times annually tabulates the Top 100 Employers in Huronia. The listing shows the number of employees, so it’s an easy matter to see who is growing and who is shrinking. Looking at Midland and Penetaguishene, from 2007 to 2010, shows the manufacturing sector lost some 900 jobs while the commercial/institutional sectors gained some 150 jobs.

Last month the Town of Midland hosted a public meeting to discuss its “Employment Areas”. At that meeting, a business person listed over 20 manufacturing companies that had departed over the last twenty years – including Bruin, two TRW plants and Doral Boats. What’s been replacing them? Our new jobs are coming from institutional (eg Georgian College, CNCC); large retail  (eg Walmart. Home Depot) and small entrepreneurial businesses (eg Labx,

It goes without saying that our manufactures remain a vitally important part of Midland’s economy. But the economic landscape has changed. The Town of Midland must similarly adjust its focus to ensure our future employment. Our success will be directly linked to how well we adapt to our changing economic situation.

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