London’s Mayor focuses on jobs and momentum in State of the City address

London Mayor Matt Brown making the annual State of the City address. (Jan. 16, 2018). Jake Jeffrey/980 CFPL

Matt Brown spent a good portion of his State of the City address focusing on the city’s momentum and job creation.

Speaking Tuesday to just under 1,300 community leaders at the London Convention Centre, Brown highlighted some of the thriving businesses in London, and their plans to continue their development.

“This is all about business. Governments don’t create jobs. What governments do is work closely with business to ensure that we’re doing what we need to do so that they can succeed,” Brown said.

“There is great momentum in our community. We have all kinds of challenges and we need to face those challenges head on.”

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Diamond Aircraft, which currently has 180 employees, plans to add at least 120 positions in 2018, and increase its workforce to 600 people by 2023.

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SAIL, a Canadian company that specializes in outdoor, camping, hunting and fishing equipment, will be moving in at the new IKEA site, adding 100 new jobs.

The Rec Room, a 36,000-square-foot facility at Masonville Place, is set to open in the spring. The Factory and Powerhouse Brewing will open in April out of the former Kellogg’s plant.

Rob Mitchell, director and communications with Gateway Casino, tells 980 CFPL that he was surprised they weren’t mentioned among the thriving business leaders in the city.

“We’ve moved our head office in Ontario to London. We’re investing $140-million. We hope to create in excess of 700 new jobs and we want to build a brand new casino,” Mitchell said.

“It’s a bit disappointing that we weren’t part of the story today.”

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Paul Paolotto, who has expressed his intent to run for mayor, thinks Brown’s speech missed the mark completely.

“I saw an effort to disguise the fact we have some real problems in the community. We have an unemployment problem relative to other markets. We have people who aren’t even looking for jobs,” Paolotto said.

“We have a lot of people who are still hurting who have been completely ignored, and I didn’t hear anything in today’s message to suggest that is being addressed.”

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Ward 7 Coun. Josh Morgan was glad to see the mayor acknowledge both the good and the bad.

“I thought it was a good speech compared to last year. I appreciate that the mayor recognized some of the challenges the city has. I think those are significant to talk about in a state of the city address,” Morgan said.

“Job creation is important, but it’s also important to recognize that we do have an issue with the labour force participation rate.”

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During his speech, Brown highlighted some upcoming construction projects for 2018.

A new luxury condo by Tricar to be built at 40 York St. York Development has plans to build a condo, sports and entertainment hub on King Street, and Brescia University College will construct a $14-million academic pavilion.

Tech firm Zomaron will expand and relocate to Wonderland Road in March, the former site of Westmount Public Library, doubling its staff to 140 from 70.

Robotics firm JMP Automation will expand and build a new facility, while the budgeting software company PSD will hire 36 more people by the end of 2019.

This marks the fourth and final state of the city for Brown’s mayoral term, ahead of this year’s municipal election. He received a standing ovation during his first state of the city in 2014.

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