Friday, May 30, 2008

Timmins Regional Economic Outlook

The economic outlook conference held in Timmins this week was told that in order for the major local industries to survive, one of the things urgently needed is more skilled workers while one of the things they don’t need is the new Endangered Species Act.
The Timmins Regional Economic Outlook conference, hosted by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, featured two separate panels, one to represent the faltering forestry industry, the other to represent the thriving mining industry. In both cases, representatives said there is a dire need for skilled trades and more young people to stay in Timmins.
Speakers with the forestry panel included Sue Millson, of Millson Forestry products, which provides seedlings and tree planting services, among others. She said she was not optimistic for the current state of the industry.
“The only word I can use is grim,” she said.
She added there is hope in change, and that industries such as hers have to be open and flexible to finding new products and new markets. She also expressed concern about the new Endangered Species Act creating more red tape at the provincial level.
John Kapel Jr. of Little John Enterprises was optimistic in his outlook because he said his company has found the secret to survival is “value added”, saying his company has been creating value added wood products for 29 years. He told the conference he is worried though about having enough wood supply and expressed frustration at seeing truckloads of Ontario wood, Timmins wood, being shipped off to mills in Quebec. He said it was imperative for government to address that issue because jobs are being lost.
Entrepreneur Kevin Mulligan, who created Woodchuckers Manufacturing in the past year, also expressed concern over finding a long term supply of wood since it could someday affect his ability to carry on business and thrive in Timmins.
On the mining side of the table, Chris Cormier, the manager of Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines, said Timmins is in danger of losing a very important resource - - people. Cormier said it was important for Timmins to promote and market itself because the Sudbury mining industry “is draining people out of Timmins”. He said challenge will be felt especially hard in the next ten years as hundreds of skilled workers of the baby-boom generation, take retirement.
There was also a strong positive note presented by business leader J.P Legault of Panels and Pipes. Inc. He told the conference that he has been in touch with business leaders and even investment bankers who predict Timmins is a sure bet for growth and prosperity in the coming years. Legault, who witnessed much of the growth in Alberta’s oil boom, said Timmins is showing all the same growth signs as Fort MacMurray.

No comments: