Andrew Atlin, Chair of the Economic Development Advisory Committee, (EDAC) updated Council on the committee’s activities and recommendations for the first nine months this year. Atlin has determined that, after many meetings with local industry, there is an acute labour shortage in the area. This applies to both skilled and unskilled workers. He said that the unemployment rate is low and this, combined with improving sales volumes, makes this a challenge for local businesses. He said that many “Job Fairs” have been held but that the most activity has been employees moving from one company to another and thus this is not creating new employment. He also pointed out that young people do not seem to be interested in this area and would rather move to bigger centres. The committee is recommending that the Town incorporate monies within its planning process to liaise with local industry and develop a strategy to deal with the employment shortage. In addition with this, the recommendation is for Council to fund a contract position to perform this function and also maintain communications with the industrial rate payers, downtown businesses the BIA and organizations within Perth County as a whole.
Atlin also outlined the committee’s concern about affordable housing in town. He said that current estimates put the employment shortage at 100 to 200 individuals. The potential employees would earn between $15 and $22 per hour to start but are unlikely to have savings so they are looking for rental accommodation, of which there is also a shortage. Atlin said that this issue must be incorporated into any plan that is developed to allow for new employees to transition into the community. Atlin also noted that there is a good stock of semi-detached housing being built in the community which would be affordable once these individuals have become more rooted in the community but it is unlikely to meet the immediate need of the new hires. The community should consider working with local builders to develop affordable housing units which are in short supply within the community.
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