BEDC looking for new Board members; decision as to who will run the operation day to day has yet to be made as well.

News 100 blueBy Staff

January 10th, 2019



The Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is currently recruiting Board Members to fill up to three seats at their 2019 AGM. Board Members serve an initial term of three years, renewable up to a total of three terms.

BEDC is a not-for-profit agency that delivers economic development services on behalf of the City of Burlington.

The Board oversees the development of BEDC’s strategic plan and operations providing insights from the business community. BEDC is seeking experienced business executives with board experience who will ensure BEDC stays focused on key business issues for the community and delivers on its mandate to support companies to start up, locate and grow in Burlington.

Board Members are responsible for providing oversight in setting the goals, objectives, and strategic directions for BEDC within its mandate. Collectively, members of the Board oversee the direction and performance of BEDC and are accountable to City of Burlington Council.

Qualified candidates are asked to submit a Resume and cover letter outlining their interest in serving on BEDC’s Board to by Midnight January 16, 2019.

Anita Cassidy

Anita Cassidy, BEDC Acting Executive Director

Anita Cassidy is the Acting Executive Director, a position she has held since last June.  One would have expected to have Cassidy appointed at the Executive Director by this time if she was to be given the job.  The current board does not appear to be ready to make up its mind.  A little confusing for people who have an interest in serving as members of the board.

Frank McKeough, former Chief of Staff to MAyor Rick Goldring asked about how politicians can handle complex issues when voters tend not to be informed and don't have the background needed to arrive at decisions.

Frank McKeown, former Chief of Staff to Mayor Rick Goldring served as the Executive Director and was the driving force that got TechPlace up and running.

With a new city council and a Mayor who did not see eye-to-eye with former BEDC Executive Director Frank McKeown it was difficult to see how the Office of the Mayor and the head of the BEDC were going to work together; the differences in both approach to economic development and what the long term objective was were not exactly in sync.

A Gazette reader came across a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. It was a draft that had some interesting comments that many thought should have been included in the 25 year Strategic Plan the current city council has to live with – unless they choose to revise that document – not something this council can so anything with this calendar year – there are just too many critical issues to be dealt with.

The SWOT had this to say

The following section of this report presents aggregated findings into common themes from the various forms of community and stakeholder consultations performed, including the detailed baseline data analysis and competitiveness assessment results, as well as a background review of the infrastructure environment and planning policies.

A SWOT analysis is an important element to any strategic planning process, and a valuable tool that supports decision making through the identification of internal and external factors that directly impact on the viability of an organization’s projects or plans.

Strengths are generally attributed to local assets and resources the municipality can leverage, or build on to support local growth and prosperity. Weaknesses are current disadvantages internal to the community that hinder, or impeded successful outcomes. These factors may require improvement, strengthening, or mitigation in order to encourage and support the community’s ability to capitalize on opportunities.

Opportunities are specific elements that the municipality can exploit, or leverage to its advantage in order to overcome challenges and effect positive change. Threats are generally associated with factors that may jeopardize a community’s success and represent barriers, or obstacles that may prevent the City’s ability to implement its strategy.

The purpose of this section is to utilize the SWOT Analysis in order to inform the overarching goals and objectives that are developed in order to effectively execute upon the Economic Vision the City of Burlington has for its future. They are drawn from a comprehensive research process, driven by stakeholder and community input, and grounded in an evidence based approach.

Burlington has a well-educated population and highly skilled workforce presenting competitive advantages for attracting and retaining industry looking for more educated workers, and increasing the net worth of residents

Brick works

The Meridian Brick works is a major employer exploiting Queenston shale in the Tayandaga community. The residents don’t want that resource developed now that there are homes in the immediate area.

High levels of professional services, entrepreneurship, and micro businesses that support a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and diversity of self-employment

Very high quality of life with ample cultural and lifestyle amenities, festivals, accessible waterfront, family oriented, green space and northern rural agricultural area, clean and safe environment, and appeal to broad audience of socio- demographic characteristics

Availability of quality and high speed telecommunications in most urban areas

Burlington has a relatively less expensive development environment than competitor communities to the East, and the lowest average land prices compared to eastern neighbours

Burlington has a low unemployment rate, and relatively high earnings in professional, knowledge based, and highly skilled occupations that position it well for attracting self-employed professional talent

Burlington has a relatively diverse economy and did not fare as bad as other communities during the recent recession

Burlington has a relatively high level of household income and experienced one of the fastest levels of income growth between comparator jurisdictions

Within the Greater Toronto Area, Burlington is a relatively affordable place to buy a home

Go Transit and integration with broader regional and inter-regional transit connectivity


Gridlock, traffic congestion, and poor transit offerings (especially along key employment districts and corridors) were noted as critical barriers to growth

A insufficient supply of investment ready lands (not to be confused with a vacant land inventory) presents a key challenge for securing new investment and expansion

city hall with flag poles

Is there a business development organization anywhere in North A,America that doesn’t feel there is too much bureaucracy?

Overly complex bureaucratic environment that discourages investment and frustrates business growth

Lack of a strong and vibrant Burlington Brand that differentiates the city from its competitors, and energizes and entices people, business, and talent to move to Burlington

Burlington suffers from a lack of a unique selling proposition

Burlington needs a strong, long term vision for the city that drives all other elements of planning and corporate activity

Aging and a lack of modern office space prohibits potential new business growth and employment

Delayed improvements to municipal infrastructure frustrate the ability to attract and retain new investment

Need to shift Burlington away from a car dependent design and stimulate more active transportation

Need for greater alignment between the post-secondary educational community, stakeholders, and the City to increase the required type of talent in demand by local industries


Supporting and/or enhancing the educated workforce, skilled labour development or skill training

Advancing redevelopment and intensification opportunities, strategic planning and rezoning

Skyline from Bridgewater at night

Is Hamilton and it vibrant local economy what is going to save Burlington’s economy. Do we align with Hamilton or stay where we are – aligned to Toronto?

Leveraging Burlington’s location between Hamilton and Toronto to better effect population and workforce growth

Ensuring stronger municipal support structures for business development by streamlining regulatory process, enhanced business expansion and retention activities, small business, start up and innovation enablement

Establish more effective and appealing incentivization programs that will encourage increased appetite in redevelopment and intensification

Great potential contained in pursuing sector growth opportunities in High Technology, Information

Communications, and Health and Life Sciences and building out the industries to develop stronger support clusters.

Additional opportunities were identified in pursuing increased Tourism, Higher Education, Professional Services, and advanced manufacturing

Better leverage Burlington’s transportation infrastructure system that see all 400 class highways converge in the city and allow access to major economic centres and populations

Establish Mobility Hubs around Go Stations to stimulate mixed-use live/work environments

Significant level of knowledge and wisdom contained in older populations that could be tapped into more effectively to support mentorship, stimulate entrepreneurship, and support growth and prosperity in the local economy

Greater volunteerism potential and community engagement to support city building and future directions

Need to effectively harness the potential contained in strategic alliances with local developers and land owners to support mutual aims and benefit

Focus on leading companies in key sectors that have global markets and ambitions – encourage increased corporate and regional headquarters to locate in Burlington

Potential contained in agricultural and rural opportunities north of the 407 that could be explored and capitalized on


Burlington needs a stronger and more integrated transit system that supports the import of workers and talent, as much as it does the export of residents and workers out of the city

Transit systems are under serviced in key employment districts, particularly the Prosperity Corridor

Increasing cost of living and housing affordability present ongoing challenges to Burlington’s ability to attract and retain newcomer and young professionals and families

Greater affordability of living and housing in Hamilton encourages outmigration of population and workers

Concentration of privately owned lands affects availability, price, and flexibility in providing development options

Availability of modern and in demand office space in surrounding competitor areas and high vacancy rates inhibit development opportunities

Cost and availability of lands in Hamilton, and other competitor jurisdictions to the west of Burlington pose significant risk to attracting new development related investment

Burlington’s lower unemployment rate may deter investment from companies with higher labour overheads, depending on the level of skill and qualification required to meet company needs

MMW with students

How many of these students will be able to afford a home in Burlington and get a decent job in the city when they graduate from university or college?

Burlington is facing a serious shortage of younger aged cohorts, and in an increasing aging population. This is occurring at a more rapid rate than surrounding and comparator areas. In order to meet new employment, knowledge economy, and creative class talent attraction goals. With significant gaps in the ages of 24 and under,

Burlington is faced with a potential shortage of people to transition into the prime working age population category over the next ten years

Burlington suffers from youth and talent leakage as skilled individuals pursue more accessible employment and affordable living opportunities outside of the city

Community resistance to intensification and downtown redevelopment, including prohibitive regulatory environment

Employment Lands Operational Plan and Regional Best Planning Estimates not aligned and contribute to confusion, lack of direction, and delays associated with infrastructure and growth planning

Lack of alignment among all key decision makers at Regional and Provincial levels towards Burlington’s growth targets and aspirations

MMW photo op

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward with Christa Papavasiliou, David James Vandenberg, Mark Daniel Mikkelsen-McGuire, Sille N Mikkelsen-McGuire and Catherine J.

There are those who have served Burlington in the past at senior levels in city hall who think that it might be time to bring economic development into city hall and make it part of the Planning department.

What would appear to be clear is that there are changes coming within the Burlington Economic Development Corporation – where the influence and pressure on those changes is going to come from is what is not all that clear.

The Mayor’s office seems more focused on photo-ops; there hasn’t been a clear statement on any issue since the swearing in.

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