Yesterday more than 400 people from across the Niagara Region attended the Niagara Economic Summit. The summit’s stated objective was to bring people together to focus on developing a blueprint to build a stronger economy in Niagara.
Though Niagara-based, the summit’s dialogue would have been instructive for almost all Canadian centres facing the challenges of a transforming economy, of globalization, and carrying the yoke of cumbersome, pervasive local government.
Here are a few memorable thoughts from the meeting’s proceedings:
- Dr. Jack Livingstone, President of Brock University, quoted our Governor General David Johnston: “Think Big. Start Small. Scale Up.” (This quote is properly attributed to Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-mart.)
- They’ll be no home-runs. We’ll succeed with a whole bunch of singles and doubles; base-by-base. (There was a litany of sports analogies!)
- Paul Knafeic, of Community Benchmarks, reported Niagara’s population base is “very dynamic.” In four years, we’ve had 39,000 people leave the area and 42,000 people move into Niagara.
- Knafeic also reported that the Niagara Region is creating jobs. Though the Region has lost large-scale manufacturing jobs and some prominent companies have moved, Niagara has still experienced a net increase of almost 3% job growth.
- Government does not generate wealth, nor can it grow the economy; it’s role is to provide a favourable regulatory framework for economic growth.
- Here’s a recurring question, “How do we begin to address the problem of accountability from our local business leaders and our politicians?”
- General Rick Hillier motivational and inspirational comments on what it takes to be a leader cut to the core: 1) robustness/toughness, 2) optimism, 3) ruthlessness – and a great sense of humour to keep everything in perspective and to relieve your inner tensions.
- General Hillier also forwarded: “A big part of a leader’s job is to inspire people and to draw inspiration from them.” / “Actions talk. Your values, words and actions must all line up.” / “Avoid the trappings of the Office and the Title. Be yourself.” / “We all have the potential to be a leader.”