Location and talent make Halton Region a hotspot for business

On November 6, Halton Region’s Economic Development team hosted its fifth Real Estate Forum: The Role of Real Estate in the Quest for Talent. The event offered industry professionals an opportunity to network and learn about all Halton Region offers to potential businesses looking to relocate into our region.

Most people have heard the phrase, “Location. Location. Location,” but in today’s competitive business environment, having a great location isn’t enough. Businesses are increasingly citing access to talent as one of the most important factors when deciding where to locate.

That’s good news for us since Halton’s ideal west Greater Toronto Area location offers our businesses access to a labour pool of more than 4.5 million people within easy commuting distance.  Halton itself has one of most highly educated labour forces in Canada – 74 per cent of residents have a post-secondary education.

Our residents consistently tell us how much they like living in Halton, with 99 per cent rating the overall quality of life here as very high. With our AAA credit rating and zero per cent average tax increase for Regional services over the last eight years, Halton really is not only a great place to live, it’s also a great place to work and do business. Our sustainable and well planned growth encourages businesses to establish or expand their operations in Halton, which translates into some rewarding numbers for the Region:

  • Halton’s unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2014 remained low at 4 per cent, significantly lower than the rest of the GTA at 8.9 per cent and Ontario at 7.8 per cent;
  • Our economy also demonstrated strong growth throughout 2013 with 17 per cent growth in development activity over 2010 levels.

These positive statistics translate into Halton Region remaining an economic hotspot and a premier business location within the GTA.  In fact, 94 per cent of Halton business respondents rank Halton’s quality of life as a comparable or advantageous attribute over nearby municipalities.

Business owners are always telling me that one of the main reasons their companies move and expand here is because of the region’s talent base and high quality of life.  We have plenty of green space, parks and bike trails and a winning mix of rural and urban amenities, all cited as important investment attraction attributes by David Gerofsky, our keynote speaker at the Real Estate Forum.

Employees are a business’ most valuable asset and Halton is a place where both owners and their staff want to live.

This past year, we’ve seen:

  • Amazon open a distribution centre in Milton;
  • Ford announce a $700 million investment in its Oakville plant and 1,000 new jobs;
  • Roxul announce plans to build their new North American headquarters in Milton, which will house approximately 100 employees;
  • The expansion of UPS’s state-of-the-art Healthcare Logistics facility in Burlington;
  • New large-scale industrial development in north Halton; and
  • The construction of several large office developments along the QEW corridor.

As your newly re-elected Chair, I’m proud that our work is paying off and that Halton Region remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Economic Update: Unemployment in Halton Region falls to 4 per cent

According to Halton’s most recent economic update, the region’s unemployment rate in the second quarter of this year (April-June) was 4 per cent – significantly below the region’s five year average unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent. That’s great news and an indication that Halton Region’s 10-year Economic Development Strategy is right on track. The number of Halton residents participating in the labour market was 74.5 per cent, edging up from 74.4 percent in the previous quarter and higher than the 70.5 per cent during the same quarter in 2013.

On November 16, 2011, Regional Council approved the 10-year Halton Region Economic Development Strategy, followed by an implementation plan on December 14, 2011. These documents guide Halton Region Economic Development – in partnership with our Local Municipal partners in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville – in the fulfilment of the Region’s vision for economic development by 2021.

While we are less than half way through the life of the strategy, I am pleased to report that we are well on our way to achieving our vision by 2021 that Halton will be a preferred location for innovative businesses and entrepreneurs who need highly skilled talent, quality infrastructure and a positive business environment in order to contribute to sustainable regional economic prosperity.

Profit Magazine’s 2014 Profit 500 ranking of Canada’s fastest growing companies includes 15 Halton companies, including Burlington-based Life Science Nutritionals Inc. (#2), ECS Coffee Inc. (#69) and EcoSynthetix Inc. (#77) and Oakville-based Dynamic Connections Inc. (#88).

Building permit value in Halton rose 40 per cent in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2013. This was a result of a resurgence in industrial investment activity (78 per cent increase). Halton’s commercial retail and office permit value also rose 11 per cent from the same time last year.

Over the past year, Halton Region’s Economic Development team has implemented new website content to support business investment location decisions, a target sector prioritization project to guide proactive investment attraction efforts and an online campaign promoting Halton as one of the best places to do business in Canada to domestic and international investment influencers.

Halton’s small business centre launched a new young entrepreneur program Starter Company this past April, providing youth aged 18 – 29 with training, business skills development, mentoring from local business leaders and grant capital to help start, grow or buy a small business.  And the Region’s Tourism team released tourism and cycling maps.

Halton Region’s Economic Development team is working hard to ensure that Halton remains a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. The team will provide a complete report on its progress in achieving the Strategic Implementation Plan early in 2015. I am confident that our progress is right on schedule.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Honouring Canada’s heroes on Remembrance Day

Every November 11 at 11 a.m., Canadians come together in schools, gymnasiums, public spaces and meeting halls to observe two minutes of silence to remember, contemplate and reflect on the sacrifice our Veterans have made and to honour the courage of those who continue to serve our country today.

For many of us, living in a peaceful, just society where our freedom and human rights are guaranteed, is all we know.

Last month, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was run down by a motorist near Montreal and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was fatally shot while standing guard at Ottawa’s National War Memorial. Their deaths serve as a poignant reminder of the dangers our soldiers face in the line of duty and a reminder that we cannot take our safety and freedom for granted.

Successive generations of brave Canadians have placed themselves in harm’s way in the hope that future generations will live in a peaceful society.  Whether on the battlefields of Europe through two World Wars, on the Korean peninsula, and most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq, our Veterans have fought with valour and determination.

November 11 is an important occasion as it gives us the chance to set aside time to reflect on the efforts of our Veterans and show them our eternal gratitude.

Keeping the history of our fallen soldiers and Veterans alive is important. By teaching our youth, wearing a red poppy on our lapel and most importantly commemorating Remembrance Day, we are able to define their heroic efforts and preserve their memory for future generations.

I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to all Veterans for their service and dedication to our country. The rights and freedoms that our Veterans and fallen soldiers safeguarded make both Canada and Halton Region a safe, great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Protecting yourself during the flu season

It’s that time of year again when the kids are coming home with coughs and runny noses and we know flu season has begun.  Most healthy people recover from the flu within a few days; however, influenza infection can lead to pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death, especially for the elderly, those under five years of age, and those with certain chronic health conditions.

Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself and those you love from getting sick.

Halton Region’s Health Department reports the best way to protect against getting and spreading the flu is to get the annual influenza immunization (flu shot). Remember that when you protect yourself, you protect those around you who may be at risk of severe illness from the flu.

There are many options which make it easier for you to get your flu shot.

Click here for a link to Ontario’s Flu Clinic Locator, which will give you the locations of all flu immunization clinics including pharmacies.”

In Halton, you can get your flu shot at your physician’s office, walk-in clinics, many pharmacies and some workplaces. Be sure to call the walk-in clinic or pharmacy before you go. Halton Region is also offering flu immunization clinics throughout the Region.

In addition to getting vaccinated, you should take everyday precautions by washing your hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth because the influenza virus enters your body through these routes.  If you are sick, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading your illness to others, and talk to your doctor if your illness continues to worsen or does not begin to improve after a few days.

For more information on the flu, please dial 311 or visit www.halton.ca/flu.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Discover Halton’s agricultural heritage with exciting fall events

One of the greatest things about living in Halton Region is that you get to experience our rich agriculture heritage either near or right outside your door. We are fortunate to live in a community where we have easy access to the freshest, quality ingredients grown by our local farmers and are surrounded by beautiful and lush scenery that makes it all possible.

With fall just around the corner, there’s no better way to experience the best our rural communities have to offer than to attend this year’s events celebrating Halton’s agriculture. Events include local Fall Fairs, Harvest Halton and the Halton Pumpkin Trail where you can meet local farmers and sample/buy their products; take part in fun activities for all ages such as tractor pulls, barrel racing, face painting, dancing and music; or sit back and enjoy the changing fall colours. There’s a lot to do this fall season, so I invite you to join me and discover more about Halton’s agriculture heritage.

Fall Fairs

A favourite tradition of Halton residents for over a century, this year’s Fall Fairs offer a variety of new exhibits, events and attractions for the entire family to enjoy. Activities include truck and tractor pulls, horse shows, demolition derbies, crafts, rides and live performances by local artists. Check with your local fair to see what they are offering:

I’d like to recognize and thank the three committees – Georgetown Agricultural SocietyActon Agricultural Society and the Halton Agricultural Society – who have worked very hard to organize the Fall Fairs to make them a success. The events planned by these committees bring us together as a community and celebrate an important part of our heritage.

Harvest Halton

A unique event you won’t want to miss this fall is Harvest Halton, a farm to chef experience taking place at Country Heritage Park in Milton on October 5.  Halton Region is home to an active and vibrant farming community and this annual event celebrates the great pride we take in our local food.  At this year’s event some of the Region’s farmers team up with award-winning chefs and restaurants to bring residents and visitors an amazing culinary experience.  Bring the entire family to Harvest Halton and take the opportunity to sample unique farm fresh dishes.

Pumpkin Trail

This fall you can also explore the Halton Pumpkin Trail, a self-guided map that connects residents and visitors to local events and products from mid-September to October 31.  The map guides you to where you can find pumpkin-themed activities, farms to sample and buy products, and restaurants to savour local cuisines. It’s a great way to find hidden (or not so hidden) gems within our great region with friends and family.

Agriculture is an essential industry in the Region and is a major reason why people enjoy living in and visiting Halton. These fall events connect us to the people and the products that drive this industry and they remind us of the importance of preserving and supporting it.  To learn more about Halton’s agricultural industry, attractions and events please visit halton.ca/simplylocal.

We also have another important event in the region this fall – Epic Tour Halton. This annual cycling event, happening September 7, tests an individual’s long distance endurance by choosing one of six distances to ride – 170km, 140kms, 110kms, 80kms, 50kms, or 10kms – all beginning and ending at Kelso Conservation Area. Last year’s inaugural event attracted 3,000 cyclists to Halton Region and we anticipate this year’s event will be even more successful. For more information, visit the event’s website at PwC Epic Tour Halton.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.” See you out at the events this fall!

Celebrating 75 years of protecting our Regional forests

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Halton Regional Forests.  To commemorate this milestone, Halton Region has recently acquired 37 hectares of new forest land, marking the first addition to the Regional Forest in almost 50 years.  Between 1939 and 1965, Halton secured more than 665 hectares (1,643 acres) of land, ranging from 12 hectares to more than 166 hectares in size, in 14 separate forest tracts.  The new forest lands contain a provincially significant wetland (approximately 14 hectares) and a woodlot (approximately 23 hectares) bringing the total size of Halton’s Regional Forests to 702 hectares.

Our Regional forests are an important reminder of the critical role natural areas play in the Halton landscape. It is essential that we preserve these unique natural systems which are home to a wide array of plants and animals including a number of rare and endangered species.

Halton Region has recently adopted a Biodiversity Strategy for the Halton Regional Forests and is the first regional municipality in Ontario to do so.  The Biodiversity Strategy will protect and increase biological diversity in the Regional forests, while preserving and enhancing the Regional Natural Heritage System. This strategy will guide conservation of the Regional forests over the next 10 years and help protect them for future generations. The strategy contains seven key biodiversity initiatives to help maintain and enhance the biodiversity of the forests including:

  • Implementing strategic control measures for priority invasive species in Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Expanding the scope of restoration and enhancement activities beyond tree and shrub planting;
  • Implementing programs to monitor the biodiversity of Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Promoting Regional Forest Tracts as Living Laboratories;
  • Engaging the public in enjoying, characterizing and enhancing biodiversity resources in the Regional Forest Tracts;
  • Engaging in public awareness and educational activities to promote biodiversity; and,
  • Continuing to implement good forestry practices in Regional Forest Tracts in accordance with the Forest Management Plan.

Regional Council considers sustainability in all that we do and is committed to the protection and preservation of Halton’s natural heritage. Working together, we can help preserve our vibrant communities and the natural environment that make Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. If you would like to learn more about our Regional Forests or our Biodiversity Strategy for the Halton Regional Forests, please visit halton.ca/forests.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhaltonLinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”

Halton Region and City of Burlington partner with Canadian Red Cross to support rain storm clean-up efforts

Please consider donating to the United Way of Burlington & Greater Hamilton to help support the recovery and clean-up efforts of many Burlington households affected by flooding.

Visit the City of Burlington Community Bulletin Board to share information about donating items and services to Burlington residents who were impacted by the flood.

Halton Region and the City of Burlington are partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to provide additional assessment and clean–up efforts throughout the Burlington areas impacted by the August 4 heavy rain storm.

Red Cross staff are now going door-to-door visiting homeowners and providing information about clean-up measures including information on Halton’s flooding financial support. All Red Cross staff carry formal identification and wear red vests so they are easily identifiable in the community.

Burlington residents who have been impacted by flooding and have not already reported it to Halton Region are encouraged to dial 311 or fill out the online flooding report form at Halton.ca/flood. Regional staff will assess the flooding and advise what future actions are required. If the flooding was a result of a sanitary sewer back-up residents may qualify for financial assistance in the amount of $1000.

Halton Region has added additional waste collection trucks in Burlington to assist residents throughout the weekdays with their garbage and bulk waste removal including an additional 15-20 trucks that will be added this Saturday, August 16.  Residents are asked to place their waste material at the curb as soon as possible and leave it there until collection has taken place. All garbage bag and bulk waste limits have been waived for Burlington residents impacted by the storm, however, Regional waste collection guidelines still apply for weight restrictions and acceptable materials.

There are a number of community organizations working tirelessly to support residents impacted by the storm including: the City of Burlington, the Burlington Fire Department, Halton Regional Police Service, the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton, the Canadian Red Cross and Samaritan’s Purse.  I thank the many staff and volunteers from near and far for their ongoing efforts to assist the Burlington community.  I also want to thank the many Halton business organizations who are rising to the occasion through providing generous volunteer support and donations.  By working together we can ensure that all impacted residents receive the support they require during these difficult times.

For more information about the flood response, waste collection and financial assistance, please visit www.halton.ca/flood or dial 311.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhaltonLinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report.”