Waterloo Region has enjoyed several decades of sustained economic growth and continues to be one of the top centres of economic growth and prosperity for Ontario and Canada. Today, community leaders are focussing on a new approach to economic development to help ensure Waterloo Region stays on the leading edge.
In 2012, the Region of Waterloo, seven Area Municipalities and Canada's Technology Triangle, Inc. (CTT) commissioned a study that identified, among a range of recommendations, the need for a more coordinated, integrated regional approach to economic development and the need for a comprehensive regional economic development strategy.
Waterloo Region Economic Development Strategy
Led by a Steering Committee consisting of the Chief Administrative Officers of the seven Area Municipalities and the Region of Waterloo and the Chief Executive Officer of CTT, work began on the first ever Waterloo Region Economic Development Strategy (WREDS) to help define a new vision and strategic framework for the delivery of economic development services throughout Waterloo Region.
The Strategy was developed using a collaborative approach to engage local community experts and stakeholders from a variety of businesses and community organizations. An Advisory Committee made up of community leaders and industry experts also supported the work of the Steering Committee. The Strategy's vision is for Waterloo region's economy "To be locally rooted, internationally competitive and globally renowned". The Strategy includes four overarching goals, which will be achieved through more than 40 specific action items to be implemented by various organizations. The Strategy was approved by the Region and Area Municipal Councils in February and March 2015.
Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation
The WREDS identified the need for a new Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation (WREDC), to foster, support and help deliver a more coordinated, regional approach to economic development. The new WREDC will be responsible for a variety of economic development functions that are best done at a region-wide scale, such as:
- Managing the implementation of the Strategy.
- Investment attraction to Waterloo Region - including building a strong case (value proposition) for investing in the region's key growth industries.
- Liaise with Provincial and Federal government efforts to attract industry and grow key sectors of the economy.
- Collaboration with other economic jurisdictions for the broader promotion of Waterloo Region.
- Marketing and promotion of the region.Identify and support key growth sectors.
- Talent development and people attraction (working with partners).
- Data and research to support region-wide economic development activities.
The WREDC will assume the Foreign Direct Investment and investment attraction role currently provided by Canada's Technology Triangle (CTT). After incorporating the WREDC in 2015, these CTT activities will transition to the new organization in late 2015/early 2016. The Steering Committee and CTT Board of Directors have developed a transition plan to ensure a smooth transition of these important activities from CTT to the new WREDC. This transition plan was recently supported unanimously by the CTT Board of Directors.
The new WREDC will be created as an independent, not-for-profit organization, funded primarily by the Region and seven Area Municipalities. It will complement and support, but not duplicate, the collaborative efforts of the area municipal and regional economic development teams.