The transition advisory team released their final report today, Dec. 7, on how to revitalize Queens after the closure of the Bowater Mersey mill.
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What they are recommending:
- hire two project managers to work on community priorities
- small business hubs to support new and home-based businesses
- better access to capital for small businesses
- more flexibility and simpler access to government support programs
- a research/development/demonstration site at the former Bowater mill property, to develop and commercialize new value-added wood products, such as biofuels and engineered wood products
- promotion of a community forest model
- work with the construction industry on the merits of wood and wood products in commercial construction
- work with famers to identify new agricultural products and value-added businesses for their produce
The recommendations included some more specific things as well. One was the creation of an innovation centre in North Queens, which the North Queens Board of Trade has been working on for the past few years.
The goal of hiring the project managers is to take the pressure off of municipal and development authority staff to work on the community priorities. These managers would work exclusively on those initiatives.
The full impact of the shutdown has not yet finished, they said in their report. Though the immediate impacts over losing the jobs and revenue were felt, there will still be impact when severance packages are finished and harvesters lose the market for their wood.
Since this will be an ongoing issue, the transition team recommended cataloguing where the community sits now, and track what happens over a longer period of time.
The team plans to meet again in one year's time to be briefed on what has happened.
The Transition Advisory Team was formed in June of this year, after the announced closure of the Bowater mill. Their goal was to compile and create ideas to diversify and grow the economy.