Peterborough Economic Development
A picturesque community where nature blends with culture, Peterborough is driven for success, offering a rich entrepreneurial spirit and unmatched business setting.
In the late 1990s, the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation was established to further develop the local economic landscape, built on the pillars of agriculture and rural development, innovation, manufacturing and small business, and tourism. The organization provides economic development opportunities for the Peterborough Region which encompasses the City of Peterborough (population of 80,660) and the surrounding eight townships and two First Nations, which make up the County of Peterborough (population of 54,273).
Recently rebranded as Peterborough Economic Development, the organization is dedicated to creating a prosperous future by advancing the creative and innovative economy of its greater community.
Dan Taylor, President and CEO of the Peterborough Economic Development, told The Canadian Business Journal, “Our strategic plan quantifies our economy into four areas of focus. We are a post-industrial economy, so we are drilling a little differently and a little deeper. I am a big believer in the creative economy and the notion of people who are paid to think. The creative economy is about creative workers and drivers of economic growth. We have a strong creative economy and creative class.
“I call it the horizontal sector. We look at the strengths within our labour force, and how we can retain, expand, and attract talent, so our first focus is on human capital. The creative economy is growing, not only in Ontario but as a whole across Canada and the Western hemisphere. This sector’s wages are substantially higher and the unemployment rate is lower, as well, it is the best way to secure a future and insulate from economic swings.”
Peterborough Economic Development recognizes its community strengths, particularly in the aerospace, nuclear energy, and water clusters, where it is home to many major global players within these industries. Part of the role of the corporation is to define the supply chain and market position in order to grow and attract new businesses to the community. As a recent example, the City of Peterborough invested $30 million in its municipal airport in an effort to expand its regional airport capabilities, which in turn will attract complementary businesses to the area.
“Our job is to make sure that we are market ready,” Taylor explained. “We bring the industry together as a cluster to collaborate and to find new business and attract new investment. We are targeting at least five active leads on our airport, and then another five active investment leads of over $5 million outside of the airport.”
Within the energy portfolio, Peterborough Economic Development anticipates multi-billion dollar refurbishments to the Darlington and Bruce power generation stations, which will then create new markets in nuclear business. The region is currently home to more than 25 companies operating in the nuclear supply chain. From a global perspective, more than $1.5 trillion is being invested in the nuclear technology industry, further strengthening Peterborough’s abilities within this supply chain.
Home to three post-secondary education facilities, Trent University, Fleming College, and the new Peterborough Campus of the Seneca College School of Aviation, these centres offer advanced skills training that fuels the local labour force. Investing in water technology, Fleming is home to an alternative wastewater treatment centre and Trent specializing in source water detection to analyze trace elements and contaminate sources, as well as remediation related to water contamination issues.
The core objective of Peterborough Economic Development is to support business growth in the community, attract new investment opportunities, and create jobs across its four areas of focus. Investment attraction and job creation carry similar goals, in that increased community investment ultimately acts as a job creator.
“We look at 14 deliverables, including business startups, whether they came as an attraction and if we helped them start their business, as well as job creation. Those are the two big categories,” Taylor summarized. “We are having a really good year this year where we are on track to create at least 225 jobs.”
On a broader scale, quality of life and community value also plays an important role in driving the creative economy and overall economic growth to Peterborough.
“If you put a dot in the centre of Peterborough, there is the city and then cottage country all within a traffic-free, fresh air drive. We have a neat little city with great culture, food, sports, nature, and entertainment,” Taylor concluded. “Then within 15 minutes, you can be fishing on a lake, kayaking, or cross-country skiing. From an urban perspective on a smaller scale, we have almost everything you need, and then we have cottage country within arm’s reach. That’s Peterborough’s differentiation.”