Increased bear sightings lead to discovery of 23 strategies for economic growth

Baylor University North Bay

Baylor University North Bay Hutchison

Weeks back, there was an increased presence of bears in North Bay, ON — Baylor bears from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Let’s explain why. Rewind to July.

With passionate perspective, the newly formed development corporation volunteer board discussed fostering the right economic environment to achieve long-term prosperity for North Bay.

We felt Baylor could contribute by providing a fresh and unbiased insight.

Unique to Baylor is the Focus Firm in which graduate MBA students, guided by renowned faculty, work pro-bono for major corporations such as Walmart, Coca-Cola and Dish Network.

As proud Baylor alums, and with four Focus Firms under our belts, my brother Timothy and I spoke with Baylor about assisting North Bay in charting its strategic direction.

Baylor graciously said yes.

A two-phase project defined by integrity and collaboration was structured. The community would be invited to the table to begin envisioning our collective future.

The student team included lawyers, entrepreneurs and future business leaders. The faculty team comprised of alumni from institutions including Wharton with professional careers in corporate business, the U.S. air force and the CIA.

Phase I began in September with a visit to Waco to hear former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani discuss what makes a city work and the need to build on strengths. Baylor’s president Kenneth Starr, 39th Solicitor General of the U.S., spoke about Waco’s social capital and energizing efforts around community pillars.

Feeling empowered to affect change was a natural outcome.

In October, the phase one Baylor team met with folks throughout North Bay. In November, the community shared its voice via a survey designed to capture the wishes of the people. An impressive and statistically significant response rate of nearly 11 per cent was achieved.

In December, the team accompanied by associate dean Gary Carini and director Laurie Wilson returned to present the survey findings in a transparent and meaningful way. Themes related to cohesion, communication and strategy emerged.

North Bay was affectionately described as ‘home.

January marked the start of phase two — identification of strategic priorities. A development corporation board-selected delegation visited Waco to learn from transformational leaders who embrace collaboration and conquer adversity.

The team returned in February for a short but productive visit, and in late April accompanied by professor Patricia Norman, presented final recommendations — the culmination of innumerable weekly calls and meetings — to an energized audience at Nipissing University.

The team didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, nor confirm or deny current thinking. Members objectively identified a path forward after analyzing more than 100 small to large global communities which share characteristics with North Bay.

Their achievable strategic recommendations — arrived at through extensive analysis and supported by qualitative and quantitative data — build upon the historic achievement and natural beauty of North Bay.

The team suggests a 21st century approach to economic development.

They encouraged us to further refine our approach to achieving growth and prosperity, and highlighted the good that comes from disciplined leadership and citizen engagement.

We each play a role in enriching our city.

Team members also spoke of their fondness for the people they’ve met. North Bay is made better by hardworking and generous people — people who have a strong sense of volunteerism.

Our colleagues from Texas gave the community a substantial gift — more than 5,000 hours of qualified insight. This initiative is Focus Firm’s first-ever dual-semester project, first-ever municipal project and first-ever Canadian project.

The community demonstrated gratitude toward Baylor by extending the warmth and hospitality which makes us uniquely Northern — uniquely Canadian.

This Focus Firm has come to a close.

As with any project, value is realized when good ideas are well implemented. The development corporation board will lead efforts in the next phase to foster and attract investment. City hall will lead municipal improvements and engagement. Together with non-profits the community will lead the social charge.

And although there is much to tackle, today we have a better sense of what we can achieve together.

Thank you North Bay. Thank you Baylor.

Tim Hutchison (MBA ’08) and Kevin Hutchison (MBA ’07), Baylor project leads

Strengthening Community – Baylor’s Recommendations:

Talk – Move from inform to engage

1. Implement an enhanced municipal communication plan

2. Increase the city’s social media presence, responsiveness and community-focused messaging

3. Revamp the city’s website — the front door and first place of commerce

4. Develop a community newsletter

5. Introduce town hall engagements for specific purposes

6. Strengthen the community identity/brand and sense of pride

Retain – Live, work and play

7. Lead a community visioning process

8. Invigorate downtown core with vision, action, integrated festivals, façade program and increased safety presence

9. Envision the downtown and waterfront as connected and integrated spaces

10. Encourage community-led development initiatives — mural, park, event, etc. — of increasing significance

11. Reduce graffiti and unkempt infrastructure

12. Emphasize walkable, livable and inviting streetscapes – “placemaking”

13. Build congruency between educational institution output and long-term community career viability

Sell – Worth visiting, worth investing in

14. Increase reach through an integrated and robust tourism program

15. Enhance appeal across travel platforms

16. Implement customer relationship management tools and coordinate business development functions

17. Leverage apolitical purpose/benefits of development corporation for investment generation and attraction — an elected board with an employee compensated based on performance

Develop – Start and scale your business

18. Draft and implement a strategic plan

19. Focus on building from within, but don’t disregard attracting large firms

20. Attract younger firms looking for a home — entrepreneurs will determine industry focus

21. Develop a collaborative entrepreneurial mindset and space for growth (a hive)

22. Establish metrics for success and use data for decision-making

23. Develop entrepreneurial growth partnerships with educational institutions

Get the full story by watching the presentations below and viewing the slide decks here: