The city has taken the first steps to dismantle the non-profit economic development agency and bring it under the municipality's umbrella.
This week, Timmins council agreed to dissolve the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) after a third-party review found that there's a lack of governance oversight.
CAO Dave Landers is notifying the TEDC that its memorandum of understanding with the city is ending. That allows Landers to start further defining how the TEDC staff will transition to working in the city. The municipality will also assume any agreements or contracts that the TEDC has entered into that extend beyond Dec. 31, 2024.
"Council’s plan is to see Timmins grow. We have identified the need to diversify Timmins’ economy in order to build resiliency against shifting market trends and promote development and production," said Mayor Michelle Boileau in a news release.
"Supporting a diverse economy can be better accomplished by investing in economic activities that are aligned with the work already being completed by the City. It makes sense to bring economic development under municipal direction to encourage growth and sustainability."
What will happen to existing staff and what the city's economic development department will look like are concerns for some councillors.
"Every city has an economic development department and we will too. And it will be within the municipal structure and it will take direction on the council," Landers told council.
"That will be the path forward, I'll work on our transition plan and that will likely involve a bit of a strategic planning process to make sure that the activity of staff is aligned with council priorities and we'll certainly return to council with with that sort of a report."
The TEDC will end operations Dec. 31.
"We'll transition all the activity over ahead of time and work our way through some of the other legal matters. The council will not become the board of economic development. Council will remain council and will set the direction for economic development within the corporation of the City of Timmins," said Landers.
Coun. Steve Black talked about what he would like to see in a city economic development department.
"For me when we talk transitioning staff, I'm not sure there shouldn't be a different composition of staff there. I would like to see someone with a planning background or something part of that department that could dive into the ins and outs of that economic planning strategic development," he said.
Right now, the TEDC is a non-profit that is one of the agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) that receive municipal funding.
The CEO of the TEDC, Christy Marinig, retired in December. There are 11 staff members listed on the organization's website. There is also a nine-member board.
Landers' report for this week's meeting says that KPMG completed a governance effectiveness review of the organization.
Four of the observations from that review are:
- There appears to be a significant disconnect between the city and TEDC when it comes to delivering economic development services,
- The governance oversight of the TEDC "appears to be lacking",
- Using a separate economic development corporation doesn't reflect common practices for municipalities of similar sizes to Timmins; and
- Selected stakeholders do not perceive the TEDC as effective in its role.
While a third party could be found to take over the governance role, Landers' report lays out the rationale for integrating the work under the city's umbrella.
He argues it will ensure that the city's strategic objectives line up with the economic development activities and complement council's priorities, offer better transparency for the outcome of projects and allow the city to assess the value for money results from economic development investments. Other benefits are potential operating efficiencies by being able to use administrative and other back office services, and being consistent with the best/common practices of other similar-sized areas.