In her annual State of the City address this morning, Mayor Karen Farbridge said Guelph is successfully differentiating itself to attract talented people and business investment.
“Something different is happening here,” said Mayor Farbridge, outlining Guelph’s leadership in a number of key areas, including municipal policy decisions that are driving innovation; a commitment to open government; a local collaboration on wellbeing; and the transformation of the downtown into a truly urban neighbourhood.
In a competitive market where talented people can follow jobs all over the world, the mayor noted, “The good news is that location matters… and Guelph is a location that has a lot to offer both businesses and people.”
Guelph is enabling innovation by focusing on the city’s best opportunities for economic growth. “Instead of following the crowd, we are building a platform for growth in a broad range of emerging areas such as Clean Tech, Agri Tech, Open Data, and wellbeing,” Mayor Farbridge said.
The City is re-conceiving its various planning, policy and service functions as platforms for economic development and innovation. For example, a commitment to open access to municipal data and information will not only improve local government transparency; it will give rise to new start-ups, products and services. The Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative will build a healthier community while seeding new opportunities in the emerging health and wellbeing sector.
The mayor cited downtown as one of Guelph’s “difference engines,” saying “it’s widely seen as one of the healthiest downtown cores around. It’s why many people want to locate here.” The City’s priority is to continue to transform this central business district into a truly urban neighbourhood, with targets to raise the downtown residential population by 6,000 and bring in 1,500 more jobs. A number of recent public investments in infrastructure, Market Square, Guelph Central Station and the Guelph Civic Museum have leveraged more than $85 million in private sector investment in condominiums and commercial developments.
Mayor Farbridge concluded by making the case for the municipality to take the lead in securing its economic future, saying, “Cities, not nations, are the engines of development and progress. Immigrants come to cities. Entrepreneurs locate in cities. Growth and opportunity are in cities. In the face of globalization, local is becoming king.”
The complete text of Mayor Farbridge’s State of the City address can be found on the Mayor’s Office page at guelph.ca/council.