Boom goes Sudbury – by Mike Whitehouse (Sudbury Star – May 31, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The next four years will bring 4,000 new jobs to Sudbury, an economic forecast released Wednesday predicts, but it will not be your grandfather’s economic boom.

The forecast, from the economists at BMO Capital Markets Economics, predicts the kind of rapid, game-changing growth for Sudbury last seen in Alberta — both good and bad — its authors say.

Sustainably strong commodity prices coupled with the maturation of Sudbury’s economy — clearly the centre of Northern Ontario’s booming mining cluster — will lead the way, says Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets. “Employment in Sudbury has recouped all of the declines suffered during the recession,” he said.

“The city’s small labour pool makes statistics like the jobless rate volatile, but the underlying trend is clearly improving.” Even at 7%, Sudbury’s jobless rate remains below Ontario’s, a feat achieved in 2007, and a stark turnaround from about 15 years of a consistently high local unemployment rate, he said.

Looking over the medium term, Sudbury’s unemployment rate should drift down toward 6% by 2016, about half a percentage point below the Ontario average and back near pre-recession lows.

“If commodity prices remain stable, Sudbury’s economy could outperform the province for the next 10 years,” Kavcic said.

The boom is already being felt on the ground in Sudbury, said Steve DeMarco, commercial banking area manager, central Northern Ontario district, BMO Bank of Montreal.

“Businesses in Sudbury are driving forward with plans to invest in their operations, in new equipment, in expansion and in hiring people,” he said.

DeMarco, a Sudbury native who returned after 15 years away working for BMO, said what he sees in Sudbury convinced him to convince the higher-ups that Sudbury is a city worth studying.

The report on Sudbury is the third in a series of economic and business overviews for various cities across Canada that will be published by BMO throughout the year.

The principal difference between Sudbury over the next 10 years and Sudbury during the past 60 years is the kind of boom, Kavcic says.

Rather than a couple of companies hiring thousands of men, hundreds of companies will hire dozens of technologists, engineers and skilled trades. And the products and services these companies perfect to meet local and regional demand will be marketed around the world.

Add to that the construction boom — everything from new industrial space to office-retail to home building — and the ripple effect will really take hold, he said.

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