Last week, on May 15, the Mayor’s Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force met at Burlington City Hall to review the wealth of insights and information collected over the past two months of town halls, focus groups, and 1-on-1 meetings.
The volume of information is plentiful to say the least. The task of distilling all the information into actionable insights requires a specific skill set and a history of expertise and experience. For that reason, I reached out to some highly-respected members of our business community to support us in this stage of the process, and I was very pleased at their willingness to be involved.
Joining myself and my co-chair, Councillor Kelvin Galbraith, on the Task Force itself are the following individuals:
- Candace Herod, currently Information Technology Business Manager for Craig Careers and former President of Cogent Technology for 17 years. Candace also spent time working for the City of Hamilton as Project Manager for Housing.
- Shann McGrail, currently Executive Director at Haltech Regional Innovation Centre. Shann previously spent 12 years at Microsoft Canada and has since held positions focused on developing talent and driving innovation and change in the technology industry.
- Don Baxter, a local expert and consultant on economic development and planning projects. Don’s focus has been on developing corporations and projects that act as a bridge between the public and private sectors. Don was previously President & CEO of Mohawk College Enterprise Corporation and past Executive Director of the Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC).
- Vince Molinaro, President of Molinaro Group, one of Burlington’s longstanding residential and commercial real estate development groups for over 50 years. Vince helps ensure the development voice is at the table as we know many of our obstacles to business growth impact and affect this group.
- Maria Thornton, a local small business owner who brings the small business owner perspective to the table along with experience and expertise as a Controller, CPA and CGA. Maria’s philanthropic leadership involves being former chair of Halton Food for Thought and she is now contributing her time and skills to the Gift of Giving Back.
- Jamie Tellier works for the City of Burlington as Manager of Urban Design in the Department of City Building. His tenure here at the City along with his ability to ideate in innovative ways make him a great addition to this team.
- Anita Cassidy, Acting Executive Director, Burlington Economic Development Corporation, has been part of this journey from the start and brings a wealth of first-hand knowledge of the challenges of our local business owners to the table.
The group was presented with a summary of the feedback provided by the hundreds of business owners who attended the town hall, focus groups and 1-on-1 sessions or provided feedback via email if they were unable to attend.
Key themes were highlighted that had surfaced repeatedly, and anecdotal evidence was discussed around specific examples of challenges, obstacles, and red tape that has made it difficult for existing businesses to thrive, or new businesses to locate here in Burlington. We identified the low-hanging fruit that could be:
- Acted upon or influenced by the City of Burlington
- Effected in a realistic and timely manner (ideally within my first term as Mayor)
- Have a worthwhile and lasting impact on a meaningful number of businesses
We discussed possible solutions that were brought up at past sessions. We looked at the issues and the actions that would best solve them.
The Task Force left with the following homework: continue to review the list we discussed. Think on it. Reflect on feasibility, impact, and timing. Expand on it. Modify it. Add things. Remove things. Do some research. Talk to others. Get more insights and information.
We will reconvene in 2 weeks to finalize the list of recommendations that we want to bring before Burlington City Council for consideration.
We look forward to sharing that final list with you soon.
Visit prior posts in this series by clicking the links below:
- Rural Business Focus Group Highlights
- Development and Real Estate Industry Focus Group Highlights
- Large Business and Manufacturers Focus Group Highlights
- City Staff and Partner Organization Focus Group Highlights
- Small Business Focus Group Highlights
- Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force Launches with Town Hall for Burlington’s Business Community