Imagine a Southern Georgian Bay where everyone works together, regardless of geographic boundaries or political, personal or economic interests, to make the entire region more prosperous and sustainable; where a strong "sense of place" draws new entrepreneurs, businesses, professionals, residents and tourists to the area to enjoy the rich culture, abundant experiences and active lifestyle our region has in spades.
That's the vision of a new not-for-profit 'think tank' organization, the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay*. With the goal of achieving "prosperity through collaboration," the Institute has already attracted a diverse group of movers and shakers from the local business, tourism, arts and culture, healthcare, education, economic development, agriculture and food sectors.
The Institute is the brainchild of Don May - a professional land use planner who has been involved in collaborative projects in other communities such as Hamilton and Burlington - and David Green, a marketing professional who has worked with Skills Canada and the WorldSkills organization. Since floating the think tank idea, May and Green have been meeting with various individuals and groups to identify the issues and pinpoint specific projects the Institute could get behind or implement.
"People like [business guru] Roger Martin, [socio-economic journalist] Diane Francis and [urban theorist] Richard Florida are all saying that our institutions and the historical way we do business are not preparing us for the future," says May in explaining the rationale behind the Institute. "This isnâ€™t unique to this area. How we do things may not be the right way to prepare for the future, so some communities are creating new relationships. You can call it a 'smart community.' And in a smart community, there is engagement by the community as well as government, as well as industry, so that new relationships are formed to address the challenges for the future."