(Submitted photo)

May 6 to 11, 2019, is Economic Development Week and the team at Chatham-Kent Economic Development and Small Business Centre want to let you know that Chatham-Kent is Open for Business.

The goal of Economic Development Week is to increase awareness for local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities, and increase the quality of life in communities everywhere.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Chatham-Kent is the perfect place for individuals and their families to live, work, play, and invest,” said Darrin Canniff, Chatham-Kent Mayor, in a press release.

“I have made it a top priority to personally visit businesses of all sizes, from the single-person start up, to our major manufacturers, and of course our fantastic agricultural sector. I want to personally hear from them the things we are doing well and the key areas where we can do better so that they can grow in Chatham-Kent.”

Over the past 10 years, one of Chatham-Kent’s economic strengths is the focus on creating greater diversity of both businesses and the workforce.

Leading this diversity is the small business sector which makes up 48.74% of the community’s business establishments.

“It’s no secret that in the past the community relied heavily on just a few large employers who produced products for a very specific market, and when those employers ran into trouble, we would be hit hard,” said Stuart McFadden, Director of Chatham-Kent Economic Development, in a media release.

“The good news is that we have learned from those times and have worked with businesses, both large and small, to find ways for them to explore wider markets in order to better handle shifts in demand. That strategy has worked and now we are seeing companies grow and flourish across Chatham-Kent.”

McFadden added: “From an economic development perspective, 2019 has been a very positive year for Chatham-Kent. I’m hearing from many businesses that they are in a growth mode and are hiring. I’ve also been in talks with both local businesses and new investors who are asking about our infrastructure capacity to handle their demands for electricity, natural gas, water, and roads. This is a huge and welcomed change in the conversation as compared to even just a few years ago.”

From the career perspective, employers in Chatham-Kent are making the shift towards improved wages and other important lifestyle considerations.

For example, Agmedica announced that they are ensuring that all employees are guaranteed at minimum a living wage of $16.33 per hour to start.

Additionally, Sonoco in Chatham is offering employees an average wage of $24 per hour along with benefits and pension.

“I really want to stress that the success of Economic Development depends on everyone in the community,” said McFadden.

“Try as we might, we can’t be everywhere all of the time. Which is why we rely on people informing us about business needs and investor opportunities.”

As part of staying informed, Economic Development has a monthly newsletter that includes updates on business news, grant opportunities, and events.

The newsletter is available for anyone to subscribe and can be found at www.investck.ca. You can also find frequently updates and information on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages @CKEcDev and @CKbizcentre.

Stay tuned for more Chatham-Kent news during Economic Development Week.