Lakehead Univeristy president Brian Stevenson introduces his new advisory council Wednesday afternoon.
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The president of Lakehead University is getting some help in bringing the big picture for the school into focus.
The President's Advisory Council on Economic Development was announced Wednesday.
Featuring 16 leaders in industry, economic development and workforce planning, the council was established to help the school set itself up to spur economic development in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.
"What kinds of things the university can do to help support diversification of the economy and creating more jobs and supporting industry and the public sector," Lakehead University president Brian Stevenson said after introducing the council.
While universities are always large contributors to local economies from employment to purchasing supplies, Stevenson said he wants to see the school become a more central player in the region's economy similar to the University of Waterloo's involvement in the technology sector.
To do that the council is made up of representatives from mining, forestry and health-care sectors.
"As many as we could possibly fit," he said.
Council chair Harvey Cardwell, who is also CEO of Northco Group, said five years ago the Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario was pessimistic about its role in the economy but more and more people see a case for optimism.
"We were licking our wounds from the loss and slowdowns from some of our industry," he said. "We've moved on from that now... there's a lot of bright spots out there."
Now is a critical time for Lakehead University and the region as mining and other industries open up new opportunities. But that opportunity needs to be defined to take full advantage.
That's where the council comes in.
"It's great to have a group of this high a calibre all at the same table," Cardwell said.
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