Two of the eight people — mostly board members — to participate in a brainstorming session to see what the board of trade should say in its pre-budget presentation to Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy, were 18-year-old friends Riley Canning and Quinton Colbourne.
While Canning said he is just a young person concerned about the state of the local economy, Colbourne is in his first year of university and plans to study business.
“I want to see where we are going as a community and what I can do to help when I am able to,” Colbourne said.
During the session, the two expressed their thoughts on Corner Brook possibly missing out on employment opportunities and how they would like to see better promotion of locally-owned and operated businesses.
“I think we should be gearing more towards localized businesses and limiting the market share some (other businesses) have,” said Colbourne.
Throughout the two-hour consultation held at the Royal Canadian Legion, the group also discussed issues such as what could be done to ensure the sustainability of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, the importance of this coming budget containing a better indication of the status of the new regional hospital planned for Corner Brook, and the need for transportation infrastructure to be well maintained for the sake of both the business and tourism sectors of the economy.
The idea of government making better use of currently vacant properties in Corner Brook was also suggested.
The group discussed how crucial it is for municipalities to have a clearer idea of what’s happening with regional waste management and ensuring the continued viability of both the Stephenville and Deer Lake airports.
Matthew Connolly said the board of trade will compile all the points raised and formulate a document to be presented to the finance minister before the next provincial budget is brought down. In the meantime, he said it is important for local businesses to be ready for developments on the horizon in the oil and gas sector, and with the hydroelectricity transmission line that will run from Muskrat Falls in Labrador down through western Newfoundland.
He said government has to do its share, but the economy itself has to be ready for possible increases in demand for reliable transportation routes, housing, the new hospital and the accompanying business opportunities.
“I would like to see businesses get ready for the demand and I don’t think we are ready right now,” he said.
While Friday’s session has come and gone, anyone interested in making a submission to the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade for consideration in its pre-budget consultation document can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the board office at 634-5831.