According to the economic development department in the City of Kawartha Lakes, 57 per cent of local businesses have seen an overall reduction in their workforce or revenue due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Those numbers were provided to the electronic meeting of the economic recovery task force on Tuesday.
“We can’t just throw it out there that we need more people to come here to fix our economy. It’s so much more diverse than that,” said Mayor Andy Letham. “We’re not just going to go back to where it was before.”
The focus of discussion for a good portion of the nearly two-hour meeting was on technology and the need for businesses to adapt in order to recover.
“Those who believe we will go back to where it was before will fail. Those who are taking the opportunity to be creative about how they go about their business to serve their clients will be the ones to succeed,” said Tom Phillips, a task force member and longtime economist and professor.
“As ruthless as this sounds, there are organizations that simply won’t survive this because of a lack of innovation or a change in the marketplace or their inability to find a way forward.”
He pointed to the need for a hub-based system to help businesses get the help they need to further their technology, including social media and online presence.
Deputy Mayor Pat O’Reilly pointed to a Global News Peterborough story that aired on Monday that looked at the final recommendations from the Northumberland Economic Recovery Task Force.
O’Reilly keyed in on the recommendation to find key recovery actions for youth, women and older workers. Northumberland’s task force wants the area’s post-secondary institutions to identify apprenticeships and internship programs as a way to engage youth.
Phillips said he would work on facilitating a “renewed relationship” between Fleming College and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Meanwhile, Phillips felt the construction sector was the most likely to rebound quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have had discussions about speeding up the development process. Get that going and get construction going. Create jobs and get some money going into the community and create the living conditions to attract people here,” he said.
To help spur growth, the task force is recommending that council move ahead with prioritizing budget decisions in 2021 surrounding the capital project to revitalize the downtown in Fenelon Falls and the third phase of the downtown Lindsay revitalization project.
Council will get that recommendation at its committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 1, the same day the task force holds its next meeting.
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