After years without a clear economic strategy, mayoral candidate Jim Watson insists it’s time the city had some direction for creating job growth in Ottawa.
Speaking at a Rotary Club of Ottawa luncheon yesterday, Watson said the city is now trailing other municipalities in terms of job growth because council is not “setting clear goals and making them happen.”
Among the promises Watson made, if he is elected mayor Oct. 25, is to reinvigorate The Ottawa Partnership to once again guide city’s high-level economic development. The Ottawa Partnership was created after amalgamation to act as the city economic steward, but it has become idle in recent years, said Watson.
“It was a mistake to let that go be the wayside,” said Watson.
Watson also said he wanted to rebrand and refocus the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation in order to make it even more publicly visible. OCRI is the largest economic development organization in the area. Watson would change its name to Invest Ottawa.
The city’s large, highly educated, bilingual workforce needs to be promoted in order sell Ottawa as the ideal location for corporate head offices, said Watson.
To encourage small business owners to re-invest in their company, Watson said he would institute a guaranteed turnaround time for planning and building permits. If the city cannot meet that deadline, it would waive or significantly reduce the permit fees.
“I am determined to ensure that Ottawa is the easiest city in the country to be an entrepreneur,” he said. “The red tape city hall has amassed over the years needs serious redress and it is going to happen under my leadership.”
As mayor, he said he would also push to have solar panels retrofitted on city buildings with the goal of producing up to 50 megawatts of solar power.