Brantford might take some advice from Stratford if it wants to build a strong local economy prepared for success in the 21st century.
City of Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson made a presentation to about 150 people during a Mayor’s Series luncheon at the Brantford Golf and Country Club on Tuesday.
Mathieson talked about how the city of 32,000 people has developed into a “smart city.” He said Stratford’s efforts since the late 1990s to compete globally, provide high-quality employment for a knowledgeable workforce and deliver an exceptional quality of life has resulted in a philosophical change in how the city undertakes economic development.
“(Marketing and advocacy) has been huge for us,” Mathieson said. “We have a consistent message now, we have a consistent banner, we have established a brand, we are marketing that brand and companies are starting to take notice.
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) designates “smart cities” across the globe by considering levels of online connectivity, knowledge in the workforce, digital inclusion, innovation and marketing and advocacy. The ICF is a New York-based think tank that promotes the development of high-speed internet connectivity to foster economic and community development.
Mathieson said forming new partnerships is key to building future success.
“You have to look at new partnerships, reach out to groups that in the past you haven’t done business with,” Mathieson said. “Some of those people that are in those silos could actually become the foundation for your success in the future.”
Mathieson said Brantford could become a “smart city” by identifying its strengths and taking them to the next level.
“I want you to think about the DNA, the story, the culture, what comes naturally to Brantford,” he said. “What are your strengths?
How can you build on them and how do you build the team to do so? Set out some real identifiable markers and a vision.”
“Don’t ever shy away from telling your story. Make sure that when people have questions or even challenge you on it, don’t look at them as evil, look at it as an opportunity to convert. For those of you who are in those leadership roles, you have the opportunity to inspire the next generation.”
Brantford Mayor Chris Friel, who hosted Tuesday’s event, said a resolution will come before city council on Monday to begin developing Brantford into a “smart city.”