Economic developers are faced with a constantly changing environment as industry changes before our very eyes; the needs of yesterday are not and will not be the needs of tomorrow. The EDAC 2017 Conference highlighted three themes that can help economic developers stay relevant. If understood and utilized, these themes can help economic developers capitalize on the opportunities they present when planning for future community and economic needs.
Many conversations around the conference focused on the need to nurture talent in order to retain and/or attract business. As noted in the Mississauga Life Sciences Sector Strategy presentation, talent is a key linkage that is critical to success across all sectors, whether that sector is industry, academia, or government. Positioning Mississauga as a desirable place to live and work was essential component to grow the life science sector to be the second largest in Canada. Attracting labour is not enough. How talent and careers are developed in our communities also plays a role. This point was highlighted by Jeremy Bout of Edge Factor who has created a suite of educational tools for youth, educators and industry who stated that we must “Be relevant, have a palpable story to relate to” when it comes to informing youth about the opportunities of tomorrow. Put simply we must “Promote careers, not jobs.” Ultimately, talent will be critical to meet the business realities of the future.