Archived — Address to the Economic Developers Council of Ontario 57th Annual Conference and Showcase

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Speaking Points

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Toronto, Ontario

February 6, 2014

Check against delivery

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, friends and guests. Thank you for the warm welcome. C'est un grand plaisir d'être avec vous aujourd'hui.

I am very happy to be back in Toronto once again, where our Government has supported a number of projects. I understand that part of your conference agenda yesterday was a walking tour of Ryerson's Digital Media Zone, an incubator for local digital entrepreneurs that has yielded tangible business results.

About this time last year I announced a contribution of up to $2 million for Ryerson to establish the Ryerson Centre for Cloud and Context Aware Computing, or RC4. The Centre is now open, and by 2016 expects to have collaborated with 50 to 60 businesses that develop context aware computing products and patents, helping to position southern Ontario as a global leader in this emerging technology.

It is this type of cutting-edge, productive and innovative work that our Government wants to see happen more across Canada. And we all have a role to play in making that happen.

We are confident that we have set the right macro-economic conditions and provided the necessary targeted investments from across federal departments and agencies to retain, attract and grow Canadian businesses.

For example, since 2006, our Government has lowered taxes, made Canada the first tariff-free zone for manufacturers in the G-20, eliminated unnecessary regulatory burdens and improved conditions for business investment. These steps have established a solid foundation that has allowed Canadian businesses to create jobs and drive economic growth.

We have invested directly in game-changing projects such as RC4 and in growing companies where the return on our investment has and will be of direct benefit to taxpayers and the country. But we cannot do it alone. We need industry and other levels of government to do their part, particularly with respect to their areas of jurisdiction. For example, the province needs to ensure that factors of production such as electricity costs are brought under control and, businesses need to invest in technologies and equipment, which reportedly they continue to fail to do.

For its part, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, or FedDev Ontario as it is more commonly known, has over the last four years invested more than $1.1 billion in southern Ontario to support businesses, manufacturers, organizations and communities in the region. This has resulted in partnerships with more than 5,300 organizations.

It has also resulted in spurring additional investments of more than $1.5 billion from almost exclusively non-government sources.

Going forward, we hope to build upon this work with renewed funding for five years as a result of Economic Action Plan 2013. We will help our region grow, retain and attract businesses that drive innovation, productivity and diversification, making our communities more prosperous.

And so, with that, I'd like to tell you about the four new Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiatives, or SOPIs, which represent a total of more than $530 million in available funding.

It is my hope that the SOPIs will help our region face the economic realities I've heard so many of you talk about: increasing globalization, fierce competition, constantly evolving technology and shifting consumer demands.

As you are very well aware, new businesses in Canada have a tough time raising adequate capital and accessing the expertise and connections of the investment community. To help address these issues, the Agency has re-launched the Investing in Business Innovation initiative.

Once a business is up and running, it needs support to take it to the next level. The Investing in Business Growth and Productivity initiative will help businesses to expand facilities, adopt new technologies and processes to improve productivity, and increase capacity to participate in global markets. Canada's investment in machinery and equipment as a share of GDP remains among the lowest of its peers, and as a key driver of productivity, it's an area we want to focus on.

While Canada ranks high in innovation and scientific discovery, we are less effective in converting research, new ideas and technologies into products and services that fare well in commercial markets. The Investing in Commercialization Partnerships initiative will support business-led partnerships with post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit organizations focused on developing globally-competitive products and services.

And without stronger communities, it is difficult to attract opportunities for economic growth. The Investing in Regional Diversification initiative encourages the not-for-profit and private sectors to team up on projects such as cluster development and business incubation to help diversify local economies.

In addition to the four new Southern Ontario Prosperity Initiatives, I recently launched the  Advanced Manufacturing Fund. A total of $200 million is available over the next five years across all of Ontario for projects that demonstrate product, process, and technological innovation.

I am also excited about the continued support our Government provides for rural areas, which are a key part of our economic landscape. FedDev Ontario is working in partnership with 37 Community Futures Development Corporations in southern Ontario, to help address local needs.  We have also renewed the Eastern Ontario Development Program, which has a proven track record in that area of the province.

Now having said all that, I want to emphasize that FedDev Ontario is a thoughtful and strategic investor with serious expectations about what our funds can do for the region in partnership with businesses, post-secondary institutions and communities.

The Agency is a champion for the region. This means attracting businesses here by selling the many attributes of this part of Canada to the world, such as our natural resources, highly educated workforce and low corporate taxes. It also means supporting our businesses to sell more of our products beyond our borders, helping to improve their position in global markets.

The Agency is also a convenor focused on bringing the right people together at the right time to talk about the right things. We help to get the conversation started, and we help people to turn that conversation into partnerships that produce better products or services, using the strengths of each partner.

I hope that you will see some possibilities in our new programming and that some important connections will be made today that will bear fruit for economic development in Ontario. Thank you for your time.

Thank you. Merci.

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