By Lynne Turner
for the enterprise news
Mayor Ray Tout told representatives of Wellington North industries that they are the “pulse to the heart of our economy” at the first of several Mayor’s Breakfasts being planned by the township’s economic development committee.
Thursday morning’s breakfast, in Mount Forest, was aimed at the industrial sector. About 40 people, including politicians, township staff and members of the township’s economic development committee and Mount Forest and Arthur Chambers of Commerce attended.
Tout said the four or five breakfasts being planned are designed to create an opportunity to network and strengthen relationships between the municipality and local entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Each breakfast will be aimed at a different sector.
“It’s time for you to get to know us,” the mayor said, at the same time thanking those in attendance for investing in the municipality, employing local residents and making Wellington North their home.
Guest speaker following the breakfast, catered by Jordan of Munro’s on Main, was Carol Simpson, Executive Director for the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin.
Simpson gave facts, figures and statistics about population growth, resident ages, unemployment rates and labour force availability locally compared to provincially. There’s been a decline in the labour force, in people looking for work, in the area and “not having access to people is constraining some businesses from growing.”
Especially in the manufacturing sector, she said, there are a lack of applicants and suitable candidates for available jobs.
“There needs to be serious work done on manufacturing training,” she said, noting that a group of high school guidance counsellors were recently given factory tours and couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Manufacturing includes such things as tool and die, computer design and high tech jobs. Students planning their futures should be told what is available job-wise locally.
Wellington County Councillor Lynda White agreed.
“It’s important that we go into the school, talk to the students even as young as in Grade 7 and 8 and tell them realistically what kinds of jobs are out there,” she said.
Wellington Warden Chris White told those gathered that the county is stepping in to support economic development. Having low unemployment is a good problem to have, he said, but having low unemployment means that more people must be enticed to move to the area to work locally.
MPP Randy Pettapiece also brought greetings to the breakfast gathering.