Posted: Jun 23, 2007, 5:06 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Thunder Bay
Optimism in small business report
Tb News Source | Web Posted: 6/20/2007 8:31:02 PM
Call it the report card from small business. The results of a city-wide study were released Wednesday showing how small businesses in Thunder Bay are thinking.Their overall business trade, the community and the economy were among topics discussed in Thunder Bay Ventures' latest Business Opinion Survey and both negative and positive results were posted.
Decreasing population, job layoffs and increasing minimum wage are just a few of the things some small businesses consider significant problems for their business. Thunder Bay Ventures sent out 700 letters and surveys last month to businesses which have 35 employees or less, for their 10th annual city survey. About 130 businesses responded, with their positive or negative opinions, attitudes, comments and suggestions. Thunder Bay Ventures manager Royden Potvin says the results show more optimism than pessimism.
''I think overall, we see a positive trend, it looks like many indicators are indicating that small business think that our economy, in fact, has bottomed out. And there is a glimmer of optimism in the future in this economy. And that ranges from what they see as the sectors that are positive in the future, to their own hiring, and levels of employment within their own business.''
The survey included questions about each operation, Thunder Bay's business climate, and community projects. And under the growth potential heading, Potvin says they separated the primary industry into separate forest and mining sectors this year which he says showed surprising results.
''It looks like small businesses have counted in all the impacts of the layoffs of the forest industry, and the fact that there might not be a significant industry in the future, where they say that the mining industry can be a very important economic driver in our community in the future. So, that's a bit of a surprise to us.''
Businesses identified some of the problems facing them in the past year and at the top of the list are gasoline and fuel oil rates, electricity rates and declining sales. On the other hand, results show some issues are becoming more positive which survey consultant David Smith says is good, but still has room for improvement.
''Some of the trends with regard to economic expectation, hiring expectations, how they feel about the casino, items like that, certainly show a positive trend compared with the last two years.''
Now that the small businesses have given their thoughts and opinions...Potvin says it's up to the community to do something with it. He says they present the data, and hope community leaders take the initiative to address the issues and find solutions to the problems.
Lakehead board gets $26.6 million for new high school
Tb News Source | Web Posted: 6/22/2007 5:59:58 PM
Thunder Bay is getting $26.6 million to build a new high school to house students from the soon-to-be-closed Hillcrest High School and Port Arthur Collegiate Institute.
The provincial government on Friday made the announcement, to the delight of Lakehead District School Board chairman Ron Oikonen.
“We’re pleased that the Ministry of Education is working with us to meet the needs of these two school communities,” Oikonen said in a release issued by two local MPPs. “This is certainly one very large step in the pathway to meet the needs of our current and future students.”
Thunder Bay-Superior North Liberal MPP Michael Gravelle said the investment will benefit the city for generations to come.
“Once completed, this state-of-the-art facility will give our students the safe and healthy school environment they deserve, while also serving to enhance programming and the value of their educational experience. In addition, the new facility will serve as an important community hub, and its construction will benefit Thunder Bay economically,” Gravelle said.
Fellow MPP Bill Mauro said the new school is needed for secondary education to take the next step in Thunder Bay.
“The ability of our school administrators and local trustees to offer appropriate and comprehensive programming to students will be significantly enhanced by this announcement,” the Thunder Bay-Atikokan Liberal representative said.
“Broad-based programming options are key to providing our students with as much opportunity as possible to succeed in today’s competitive environment.”
The school board has not yet announced the exact location of the unnamed new school, but on Thursday it was learned that Lakehead University had once again put a land swap offer on the table to the board.
The deal would see 16.5 acres of university property, located on the southeast corner of the campus, transferred to the board in exchange for PACI.
The parcel of land the school may be built on is not near restaurants, it is not near many homes, it is not pedestrian friendly at all, it is not on a bus route. The LU property is really the last place a school should be built. :/ Thankfully, I'm out of school now. Going to a school located down there would be a pain in the ass.
Signs of life for PACI
By Sarah Elizabeth Brown | Thursday, June 21, 2007
Lakehead University president Fred Gilbert sits outside PACI on Thursday.
Port Arthur Collegiate Institute may continue on as a school, but for university students.
Lakehead University and the Lakehead District School Board are in discussions to swap the venerable high school for a 16-acre piece of land on the university‘s southeast corner, close to Riverside Drive.
The university is eyeing the stately, nearly 100-year-old building to house its “considerably” cramped education faculty, fine arts program or possibly a new law school.
The public school board is closing the high school at the end of this school year.
In return, the university land could be home to a high school, among other possible uses, director of education Terry Ellwood said Thursday.
The education faculty has run out of space for offices and classrooms in the Bora Laskin Building, said university president Fred Gilbert.
The entire education faculty would not likely move to PACI, but some parts of the professional, one-year teaching program might move downtown, though that‘s up to the faculty, said Gilbert.
Visual arts and music departments have said they‘re interested in PACI, and athletics could use the high school‘s gym.
“If the law school comes to fruition, that would be a lovely place for it,” he added.
So far the offer is on the table and discussions are in the early stages, Gilbert said.
“We think that it‘s a nice opportunity to ensure that PACI is a good, productive piece of property in a key part of the city,” he said. “Beautiful building too – it would be a shame to see it become derelict.”
Lakehead University Student Union president Richard Longtin said PACI has always looked like a law school should.
Added Ellwood: “All you‘ve got to do is get a little more ivy growing up the walls.”
Unlike a proposed three-way land swap involving the board, university and Thunder Bay Country Club that died in February 2006 after city council refused a rezoning request needed to make the deal happen, the Lakehead University Student Union is cautiously optimistic about the latest idea.
The school board was looking to build a high school with a capacity of about 1,100 students, approximately the same size or smaller than its current high schools.
Gilbert notified the student union about the discussions a week ago, said Longtin.
“Obviously with the result of the last situation, I wouldn‘t imagine that they would be so secretive this time around, that they would try to get students on board from the very beginning,” Longtin said.
Some university students and residents loudly opposed the previous three-party swap because the land in question was next to student residences and included the McIntyre River, causing environmental concerns and fears students‘ outdoor laboratory would be destroyed. Aboriginal students‘ sweat lodge was also on the land in question.
Those aren‘t concerns with the latest plan, said Longtin.
He and Gilbert describe the 16 acres under discussion as unused scrub. The property doesn‘t include wetlands or streams.
As well, said Longtin, the concern that university students housed at PACI would be cut off from the main campus isn‘t as acute since a cheap bus pass for all university students has been approved by the city.
There will be in-camera discussions when property details come up, but the public should know discussions have started, said Ellwood.
“We certainly recognize that . . . we need to be transparent with our school and Lakehead U communities,” he said. “It‘s about making sure people know where we‘re going.”
The 16-acre property is zoned major institutional, so re-zoning would be unnecessary, said Ellwood.
The board still has to satisfy questions about services like sewer and water.
“From our perspective, this piece of property is something that could be for future use, including the possibility of a new high school,” he said. “It could include other things as well.
“If we go ahead with a new high school, this is one of the locations that we would be looking at.”
This land-swap proposal is preferable because it doesn‘t involve land that students use, said Longtin.
The only reservation for the student union is putting a high school so close to university residences, he said. Having young teens mixing with university-age students and more people near the university student residences were two concerns in early 2006.
But there are many positives this time around, he said, from more space for cramped faculties to more people downtown spending money in local businesses.
I have been saying all along that the PACI building would be a wonderful addition to LU, and the gym could have a second use as a community centre as well.