Niagara ERRT will evolve to recovery team

“Recovery will be the name of the game” – Paul Di Ianni, Lincoln EDO and ERRT team member.

By Mike Williscraft

With the possible peak of COVID-19 numbers in Ontario just days in the rearview mirror, Niagara’s Economic Rapid Response Team (ERRT) already has measures in motion in support of regional interests.

Paul Di Ianni, Lincoln’s economic development officer and member of the ERRT team representing Niagra West interests, said the group is not wasting any time in getting actions underway.

“The goal is to eventually transition the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team to the Niagara Economic Rapid Recovery Team, as recovery will be the name of the game moving forward fairly soon,” said Di Ianni.

“While the initial work of the Rapid Response Team was around understanding the immediate impact that COVID-19 has had on our local and regional economy given the closures of non-essential businesses, transitioning into a Rapid Recovery Team will allow the economic development organizations in each local area municipality to begin the conversation around what the economy looks like post-pandemic.”

The regional organization’s methodology will include partnering with every business-related organization in the region.

“The goal is to create the economic recovery plan in conjunction with the business support groups across Niagara – Chambers, BIAs, stakeholder associations, industrial groups, tourism operators, etc. – as a collective effort is what is required for a post-pandemic world,” said Di Ianni.

With the regional effort underway, a localized model for support and assitance has to mesh with overarching efforts, noted Di Ianni.

“It is incumbent upon us in Lincoln to help devise a local response. This will focus mainly around recovery in the tourism sector as I firmly believe that a rapid recovery in tourism will float all boats in Lincoln, especially around our food and beverage purveyors and main street businesses,” said Di Ianni.

“To help recover the tourism sector, I’m looking at fast tracking our tourism strategy recommendations as quickly as possible, mainly around the re-envisioning of our tourism marketing organization.”

Another sector which has met with instant economic trauma has been the greenhouse industry.

“As you know, a lot of their avenues for selling their products have closed or are reallocating shelf/warehouse space for food and paper products,” said Di Ianni.

“The hope is that as the economy begins to open up, those avenues to sell their flowers will quickly recover. This sector will need provincial support and we’ll be advocating on their behalf.”

Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulos said any recovery effort will be conducted with an eye to doing business differently moving forward.

“Based on the information provided by Public Health across the globe, we know we will be looking at a different approach to doing business until such time as a vaccine is made available,” said Kirkopoulos.

“That said, I am bringing forward a report on May 4 which is a general overview update similar to the one I provided at the end of the council meeting on Tuesday, but this one will also include a more in-depth look at the organization and items that pertain to our recovery efforts.”

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