FEDCO recommends council approve economic development strategy

The City of Ottawa’s economic development strategy will focus on four pillars over the next few years, including boosting tourism and attracting more investors to the capital, staff said in an update provided to the finance and economic development committee on Tuesday.

The update, which FEDCO is recommending that council approve, lists investment attraction and business expansion and retention as one of the pillars. The others are entrepreneurship; tourism development; and research and information tools.

While existing initiatives under the investment pillar include Invest Ottawa, trade delegations and rural economic development, the staff report lists new initiatives for the coming year that include attracting new talent to the city, more support for the local music industry, a Kanata technology hub and a Capital Business Connect program.

The planned Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards is the major initiative under the entrepreneurship banner. The city is expected to announce soon who will design and build the new facility, which is slated to open next year. Other new entrepreneurship initiatives could include a central mentoring database and an innovation pilot project program, the report said.

Invest Ottawa CEO Bruce Lazenby told the committee his agency’s new goal is to make Ottawa the most innovative city in the country.

Ottawa 2017 is the key initiative under the tourism development pillar. FEDCO was informed the city will be hosting between 10 and 13 major events during Canada’s 150th birthday year, with each expected to draw at least 10,000 people.

A curling centre of excellence is being proposed as a new initiative for this year, as well as a so-called “House of Sport,” an innovation centre of sorts that could be home to various national athletic organizations.

Quarterly tourism, real estate and BIA reports are all proposed initiatives for the coming year under the research and development tools pillar, to go along with existing ones such as economic impact studies and monthly economic reports.