Monday, June 02, 2008

SWEA -a Truly Regional Entity -or just Freeway One

The Clinton News Record reports on Provincial infusion of $300,000 to rev up efforts of the South Western Economic Alliance (SWEA) to enhance economic prosperity in a broad region sweeping east of Lake Huron over to Guelph, Brantford and Simcoe. Aside from Stratford, all six listed partners are astride the 401/402 corridor: Chatham-Kent, London, Sarnia, Windsor and Woodstock. Conspicuous by its absence from the list is St Thomas.
Since jobs in communities north of the two freeways are mostly in agriculture and tourism, improved highway access to southern markets and northern tourist destinations is crucial. And, if school closings and more ghost towns are to be avoided there has to be investment in highways before manufacturers can be attracted -and before the exodus of more food processing plants can be arrested. Paul Steckle, MP for Huron/Bruce acknowledged the situation is desperate, but didn't identify neglect of highway network as a major problem in new era of high transportation fuel costs.
The city of Owen Sound and towns such as Exeter, Goderich and St. Marys will have to step up as partners, else; by default, SWEA remains a promotional tool of southern freeway cities. The "freeway partners" can best engage their northern neighbours in promoting regional economic development by pushing for better connections to the 401 and 402.
The Ivey School of Business was commissioned to study the area's trade and the need for expansion of road, rail and airport infrastructure. Academics might review the case made for enhanced highway connections via earlier posts --here and here.


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