Team Burlington: What has it done? What can it do? Not one of the city’s strongest operations

November 22, 2013

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  Has a Convention ever come to Burlington?  Even a small one?  Doesn’t look as if anyone in the corporate or association world has ever seen Burlington as a destination.  Wonder why?

Part of the reason is the city didn’t really have anything in the way of facilities for a small convention.  All Burlington has is geography – properly promoted one can go a long way with how you look.  Other than water falling over the edge of a cliff – what else has Niagara Falls got going for it?

Team Burlington: Flying the flag for the Mother Corporation – or just blowing smoke?

Team Burlington made its annual report to the Development and Infrastructure Standing Committee last week – my colleague at the media table slipped me a note while the presenter droned on – “terrible” she has scribbled on the agenda.  Dismal was my thought.

Team Burlington was formed in 2001, one of the former Mayor Rob McIssaac’s ideas that hasn’t quite jelled – it needs a hard look.    That isn’t likely to happen for some time – the administration is going to have their hands re-formatting the way the city works.

The idea in 2001 was to “bring the major city economic development organizations together to form a dynamic team that is focused on the creation of a progressive and vibrant city with a unique Approach to business development services. Partners include: the Aldershot Business Community, Burlington Downtown Business Association, Burlington Economic Development Corporation, Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Burlington Hydro, City of Burlington and Tourism Burlington.” Only a public relations flack could write a sentence like that.

The city is a bit conflicted with what it wants.  The chilli Half Marathon brings 5000+ people into the city – downtown is certainly vibrant when they are there, but there is a bunch of people who live along Lakeshore Road who want the city to have the marathon run somewhere else.  That Marathon is one of the best things the city has going for it.  Many people don’t realize that Burlington is seen amongst the running crowd as the place with some of the best races in the province.

In 2012 Team Burlington lists the Mayor’s One Dream as an achievement.  Not something most people would put on their resume.  That event was poorly thought through, was a bit of a disaster from an operational point of view and after spending $50,000 there is yet to be anything in the way of ideas from the two-day event.

The Team Burlington Report says the event – that event did no such thing.“solidified the direction of the city’s Strategic Plan and reinforced the work.  Poppycock

“...solidified the direction of the city’s Strategic Plan and reinforced the work.\"  Poppycock With the Economic Development Corporation getting a face lift as well as a couple of major organ transplants the purpose of Team Burlington is no longer clear. The city will learn about that when the BEDC format is unveiled.  Production at BEDC has been pathetic and it is going to take at least six months to stabilize that place.

Everyone in this city talks about the vibrant, progressive downtown – I’ve never managed to see it.  The city does have a small Tourism office that is filled with brochures telling you everything you ever wanted to know about what is going on in town and the people behind the counters smile and are helpful.

After sitting through the Team Burlington presentation – “uninspired” is an understatement.

There was no information – just a recitation of what are close to mickey mouse events.  They had a Christmas gathering – really.  There was one very good event that pulled together hospitality related groups to tie them into the War of 1812 celebrations.  The presenters were as good as it gets, there was a lot of very useful information.  But there was a problem – just one person from the hospitality sector showed up.  The woman who put on the event for Tourism Burlington was a “fire cracker”: focused, motivated, and innovative – but she left town, a decision she made.

 The report has statements like this:

“Team Burlington continues to evolve and be recognized as a leading edge and unique business development model, both within our City boundaries and beyond. The Team plans to continue this mandate to support and increase economic development in the City.”  Corporate happy talk at its best.

Why do the people who sign off on these reports let things like this get out to the public? 

Not sure where the credit for the new signage that is popping up all over town should go -good looking stuff – the information needed is all up there.  There are some who quibble with the design.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 comment to Team Burlington: What has it done? What can it do? Not one of the city’s strongest operations

  • J. Laurier

    “Do nothing” is not a unique business development model. If the city’s team burlington department had successes, it would have broadcast a list of new businesses, new employment and industrial business setting up shop in the city; where is that list?

    Goldring and his inspire burlington seminars and guest speakers is a waste of time and money. Goldring used those techniques when he was a financial advisor to drum up business. City business development is a slightly different animal.

    Business development is difficult in this city because of development charges, property and business taxes, and lack of capable political support. Businesses get attracted to areas that are run by proactive political environs that promote initiative and strong business climate. Goldring is not the guy. Nobody is interested in a mayor that holds tree hugging sessions to figure out what to do next.

    The ideas are already out there. Business development has already been out there. What more can be said? How dare the city state its partners are all city departments. Since 2001, this city has been asleep at the switch. This city is in desperate need of a mayor that can be a doer and not a cautious dreamer regurgitating the same old corporate promotional insanity.

    Stop the insanity!