The province is closing in on a seasoned executive and practitioner of political jiu-jitsu who can sell companies on bringing a new manufacturing plant or tech business to Ontario.
This new “chief investment officer” will create and lead a “Strategic Investments Office” – a one-stop shop that will guide companies through government bureaucracy and toward public funding opportunities. According to Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid’s new mandate letter, the office is to launch “by fall 2016.”
The office was announced in the Liberal government’s 2016 budget. It is part of the five-year, $400-million Business Growth Initiative, which is meant to promote innovation, help smaller businesses expand and cut red tape.
“We’re determined to aggressively pursue investments globally, and we’ve been continually raising our game to win those investments,” said Duguid Tuesday.
But the new sales office is being put together following Ontario's struggles in recent years to win new investment from traditional manufacturers (even with some good news of late, such as a new investment-friendly contract between General Motors and its Ontario workers and a General Electric plant being built in Welland). Duguid told QP Briefing that the government has been watching jurisdictions like Mexico and in the southern United States, and what they’ve been doing to win over companies looking to plunk down a new auto plant, or other investments
“And what we’ve determined is that it would be helpful to us to attract more jobs and business to the province, to have a point person and a one-window for potential investors in Ontario to be able to ... make their decision easier and quicker,” said Duguid.
The chief investment officer would also have public funding at their disposal to interest companies in Ontario. The government recently revealed it committed more than $900 million in grant money from 2013 to 2016.
The cost for the investment office and the officer’s salary is “still in the works,” Duguid said, but it would be covered by his ministry’s budget. The expectation is a hiring decision will be made in the near future.
“It’ll certainly have a different feel than anything we’ve done in the past,” Duguid added. “[The office will] be very entrepreneurial in the way it works.”
The chief investment officer job was posted on LinkedIn (and other places, presumably) and the government is no longer accepting applications.
“Reporting to the Deputy Minister, the Chief Investment Officer will create a Strategic Investments Office to build upon the government's strategic partnerships with the private sector and serve as the province's one-window point of entry for business investment opportunities that will provide improved investment-attraction services and other business support services,” says the LinkedIn ad. “You will ensure that policies, strategies, programs and services are integrated and coordinated, resulting in seamless services in achieving common investment goals.”
The chief investment officer must also know their way around government. The job ad said they must have "sound judgement on sensitive and political issues and have managed high-profile issues.”