Mark Sutcliffe: A vibrant, growing Ottawa needs vibrant, growing local businesses

Mark Sutcliffe
Mark Sutcliffe is an award-winning journalist and an Ottawa-born entrepreneur. He currently works as a coach, mentor and advisor to Ottawa businesses through TEC Canada.
Editor's Note

OBJ reached out to all of the mayoral candidates to ask their views on the city’s business community and its priorities. Monday: check out a compilation of priorities from the candidates.

Ottawa is my hometown. And building Ottawa’s economy has always been my passion. 

I started my first business when I was 19 years old. In 1995, I was part of a group of entrepreneurs who founded the Ottawa Business Journal. And as its editor, publisher, and CEO, I’ve told the stories of local businesses and launched many of Ottawa’s signature events, including the Forty Under 40 and the Best Ottawa Business Awards. And I wrote a column about business for the Ottawa Citizen for more than a decade. 

For more than 25 years, I’ve invested much of my time and energy in promoting economic development and helping business owners. I’ve coached and mentored more than 150 entrepreneurs, business owners and CEOs. I was previously on the board of directors of both Invest Ottawa and Algonquin College. And I was the chair of the Ottawa Board of Trade and am an honourary lifetime member. 

I’ve done that because I have always believed that Ottawa is so much more than a government town. We have always been fortunate to have a strong public sector employment base. But we have so much potential beyond that, in areas like tourism and technology. And my goal has always been to see Ottawa’s economy flourish. 

Despite all of our potential, however, this is a critical juncture for our city. I know many business owners who are worried about our future. It’s still not clear whether federal government employees will return to the office full-time. Remote work could lead to an increase in public sector employees who live outside the National Capital Region, dramatically impacting Ottawa’s economy.

 

Ottawa’s visitor economy is, unfortunately, not recovering as quickly as those of other cities. Crime and safety issues, like recent events in the ByWard Market, are impacting our ability to attract tourists and conventions. 

It’s not an overstatement to say that the future of our economy is at stake. The decisions we make in the next few years will have a huge impact on our city, our businesses, our children, and our grandchildren. 

And that’s why I decided to run for mayor. I’m not a career politician like the other main candidates in this race. I’ve spent my career working with small businesses while also volunteering for community organizations like the United Way, the Royal Ottawa Hospital Foundation and the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation. I know that in order to have a successful community, including effective support for the most vulnerable, we need a strong local economy. 

If I’m elected mayor, I will make Ottawa’s economy a top priority. We can’t afford huge tax increases or risky ideological agenda that will ignore the need to make Ottawa open to growing businesses. We need to revitalize downtown Ottawa, facilitate the growth of technology companies, leverage our post-secondary institutions, capitalize on our enormous opportunities in tourism, address some of the talent issues we’ve been facing, and create more jobs for everyone. 

This is a defining moment in our city, one that calls for fresh new leadership at City Hall. I hope the people of our great city give me a chance to do what I’ve always done: work hard to make Ottawa better and stronger.

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