Niagara’s new economic development director George Spezza is optimistic about the year to come, despite the devastation many businesses have suffered under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
“If we can weather the storm and look forward to an economic recovery based on some of the successes of the vaccines that are coming forward, I think 2021 could be an opportunity to really gain that momentum and start growing the economy again,” said Spezza, who started his new job on Monday.
“I’m always really impressed with people’s ability to fight against some of these crises and survive. We want to do everything we can from an economic and regional perspective to support that growth and recovery efforts. I believe it will take some time, but the future is bright moving forward.”
Spezza suspects the economic recovery will begin slowly in the first few months of 2021, and quickly increase as restrictions are lifted.
When that happens, he said the industries that have been impacted the most such as tourism, and hospitality “should see an influx of people coming back to that sector, and they’ll start seeing some of that growth.”
“Companies will have to be ready and prepared for that influx of tourism and hospitality.”
In the meantime, he said, Niagara’s economic development office will continue to assist businesses, keeping them up to date on information about programs and assistance accessing upper-tier government funding.
“The provincial and federal governments are coming forward with significant dollars and our role really is to ensure that our business community has access to that, and we can provide some assistance in accessing those programs,” Spezza said.
Navigating through the ever-changing information about programs that are available can be difficult for business owners, who are already working long hours running the day-to-day operations of their companies.
Spezza had been paying attention to Niagara while working as director of business growth services for Toronto’s economic development and culture office, prior to joining the Region’s economic development office. The Mississauga resident said he could see Niagara’s potential.
“It’s really a region with a lot of upside and a bright future,” he said, adding he often visited Niagara to explore the area.
“It was growing and doing well, and I think there’s a great opportunity for success there.”
Spezza’s interest in helping the region realize its potential led him to apply for the job running the economic development office and brought some new ideas to the job on ways to accomplish that goal.