Stating “it is a time for action” amid the “significant financial crisis” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chatham-Kent Economic Recovery Task Force is set to make a presentation to Council at the Monday, May 25, 2020 electronic meeting.
Co-chaired by local business owners Michael Grail and Rocky Gaudrault, the Task Force was formed back in April to address the economic impact of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent.
Subsequently, the Task Force was broken into nine sub-committees, which is comprised of community leaders from all sectors of Chatham-Kent.
After six weeks of work, the Task Force is bringing forward five major recommendations in their report.
“These recommendations challenge the status quo and encourage us as a community to take advantage of opportunities and enact solutions to help our community grow,” the Task Force said in their report.
“So much has changed and we all need to adapt if we are to thrive in this new world. The theme of this report is ‘We are CK’. This is to rally how we can work together, how decisions can be made, and share in one vision for the benefit of CK.”
The Task Force added: “Growth is critical to CK. We need to ensure CK is a place that people want to invest so that we have the tax base to support those in need, can create a vibrant arts and culture community, those in foodservice and lodging, while also supporting the non-profit community.”
The recommendations in the report include:
– Formation of a CK Business Advisory Group
– Restart Chatham-Kent’s Economy (Short-Term)
– Grow Chatham-Kent’s Economy (Mid-Term and Long-Term)
– Decision Making in Chatham-Kent
– Review all Task Force Sector Recommendations and Comments
“This report has been a collective and collaborative effort and our desire is to continue this,” the Task Force said in their report.
“We invite Council and EMT to engage in a special planning session to discuss details of this report with the steering committee over the next few weeks. We believe in CK and are grateful to have been a part of the Task Force as we identify how to respond to and mitigate the impact of C 19. As we focus on “We are CK”, we will be stronger together and create a competitive edge that makes us unique, set for growth and enables the ability to thrive.”
Grail and Gaudrault said in the Task Force report “we are living in unprecedented times.
“COVID-19 is a pandemic that is putting people’s physical health at risk and is challenging their mental health through separation from family and friends and uncertainty over their future livelihoods. This is clearly a time to demonstrate care for our community by protecting the health and lives of everyone in Chatham-Kent,” the Task Force co-chairs said.
As business leaders and community members, Grail and Gaudrault said they commend the leadership shown by Council, the local public health unit, and healthcare providers.
“We would like to express our thanks to the essential workers who have continued to keep our communities running. Lastly, we would like to thank everyone for their willingness and dedication to working together,” the c-chairs said in the report.
“The impact of C-19 is immeasurable as we continue to navigate through uncharted territory. However, the consequences of the current response to COVID-19 is rapidly materializing in far reaching economic impacts. Businesses operating in essential sectors have experienced extra work loads, often under monumental stressors. For many business owners, the past few months have been a time when their operations have been mandated to close, their staff have had to be laid-off, and they have been forced to tap into their savings in order to weather the storm.”
Grail and Gaudrault added: “The Task Force strongly urges CK business and organization leaders along with the Council to come together to navigate the storm, to lead with courage, to advocate and to make decisions that will grow CK. This can only be done if we unite, acknowledge our collective interests, build trust and work from a mindset that says, “WE ARE CK”.
The full report, which includes an information report from Chatham-Kent staff, can be read in full, here.
John Norton, the general manager of the community development department for Chatham-Kent, said the Task Force operates as a collective of business representatives and independent of both Council and administration.
“Recognizing the impact on various sectors, and the need to expedite recommendations for implementation, a tight timeline was developed in order to present recommendations to Council on May 25, 2020,” Norton said in a report.
“The mandate for the sector sub-committees was to identify ideas, concerns, and opportunities related to their business/organization/sector in relation to COVID-19 for businesses as well as all levels of government (Municipal, Provincial, and Federal).”
Norton added: “The co-chairs of the Task Force consulted broadly with businesses and business representatives from across Chatham-Kent. In addition, the co-chairs consulted with the Municipality’s executive management team and the community development advisory committee.”
Grail is expected to make a presentation to Council during Monday’s meeting.
The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m
It will also be located on the municipality’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MunicCK/ where it can be viewed at any time.