Town to submit pilot proposal

The Ernie Eves government announced Tuesday it is now accepting proposals from municipalities seeking to host a pilot project as a tax-incentive zone to boost economic development.
And already Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said Fort Frances “definitely” will do so—either alone or together with other district municipalities.
“I think you’re going to see all of the northwest ask for blanket coverage,” he noted Tuesday. “[Thunder Bay] Mayor Ken Boshcoff has mentioned he felt the entire region should be able to operate under the pilot project.
“Because of economics and the need for a level playing field, that’s the way we should do it,” the mayor added.
Mayor Witherspoon said not only was the tax-incentive zone idea a much-discussed topic at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual meeting last month in Toronto, but is something he—as chair of the regional “Smart Growth” panel—has made an objective.
“The tax-incentive zones is a way of doing business in the U.S. and other parts of Canada,” he noted. “Attracting business is necessary for our future. We must do it here.”
The issue of business incentives also has been explored most recently in a community plan the town submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“This is an exciting program that will help promote new growth and new jobs,” said Finance minister Janet Ecker, who made the announcement about seeking proposals with Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Chris Hodgson.
“The tax-incentive zone pilot projects will provide municipalities with the economic development opportunities they have been looking for to meet ‘Smart Growth’ objectives—strong community, strong economy, and a clean and healthy environment,” echoed Hodgson.
The program will use tax reductions to help stimulate economic growth within identified communities. The projects initially will be developed through six pilot projects, as Premier Eves had announced in August.
The projects “will encourage both large and small businesses to invest, relocate, or expand in communities, creating economic growth, and giving Ontario’s young people the opportunity to live, work, raise a family, and give something back to the communities where they grew up,” said Eves.
The program will begin with six pilot projects, which will help identify the conditions necessary for tax-incentive zones to support sound business investments and job creation.
The government will ask municipalities to demonstrate a commitment to build local partnerships with the private sector, community organizations, and key public sector institutions; demonstrate community support and evidence of a ready labour force; and identify opportunities for attracting investment and jobs.
The government is committed to a streamlined and accessible Expression of Interest process in which all communities can participate.
If communities are in need of assistance, provincial government staff will be available to walk communities through the application process.
Expressions of Interest must be submitted to the Ministry of Finance by Oct. 18.