Study to look at region’s economy

The Northwestern Ontario Association of Chambers of Commerce is trying to initiate a study to look at how variables interplay in the Northwestern Ontario economy in an effort to help those doing business here.
The 35 delegates attending NOACC’s annual general meeting in Fort Frances last weekend approved budgeting $5,000 for past-president Dave Barker, who’s spearheading the project, to do the research that will take it from the concept stage to reality.
“It’s a tool that I envision we would use to predict what might happen in the economy,” Barker explained, noting it would be a benefit to almost anyone, including politicians, municipalities, forestry and other industries, organizations, lobbyists, and educators.
“Right now, we’re at the fact-finding stage,” he added.
“This also will be tangible, impartial proof that Northwestern Ontario-based resources contribute to the economy of Ontario,” echoed Tannis Drysdale, president of the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce.
The challenge now will be finding funding partners. But Barker felt NOACC would have the necessary capital within a few months, then speculating it would take up to a year after that to complete the study.
“It will be a very valuable tool,” he added.
Drysdale stressed the study, which would be available to the public when finished, would show both positive and negative spinoffs.
Meanwhile, NOACC broke from tradition this year and approved “position papers” on roads and transportation, economic development and health care rather than pass a series of resolutions as was the norm.
Drysdale stressed this would provide them a long-term perspective on developing whole concepts.
“And they help us focus our efforts,” she added.
Dick MacKenzie of Sioux Lookout, who served as NOACC president for two terms before Barker, was acclaimed to the position again Saturday morning.
Rounding out the NOACC executive, all elected by acclamation, are president-elect George Macey (Marathon), second vice-president Vicky Kurz (Dryden), treasurer Jack Mallon (Thunder Bay), and past-president Dave Barker (Geraldton).
As for the year ahead, MacKenzie felt NOACC would strengthen its presence with the federal government, something it started doing a few years back.
“We’re kind of easing into it,” he said. “It’s a natural progression.”
In other news, Macey was the recipient of the Don Sanders Memorial Award this year for excellence in service to NOACC and Northwestern Ontario.