Update regional brand says Southwest Economic Alliance

LONDON, ON, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - The Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA) wrapped up its fifth annual Assembly today with a call to all economic players in the region to work together to create a fresh brand image for southwest Ontario that is in keeping with its changing economy and world-class assets.

Over 250 delegates representing business, universities and colleges as well as government met in London to take stock of the state of the Southwest Ontario brand and explore a new more assertive positioning for the region and its economy.

"As we heard during our Conference, our region is blessed with numerous economic advantages, but is hampered by an outdated image as a declining economy," said SWEA chair, Stratford mayor Dan Mathieson. "In fact, we have a diverse economy, with a highly skilled labour force, world class universities and colleges and an enviable quality of life; yet this does not shine through in the image we project, nationally or internationally."

Conference delegates heard from an impressive line up of speakers that took up the theme of branding in a global economy. One speaker, pollster Allan Gregg delivered the results of a new survey conducted for SWEA on business attitudes towards the region.

"Today we heard one message loud and clear: For our region to succeed in the global marketplace, all economic players - from governments to universities and colleges to business - must recognize the importance of a sharply-focused and commercially-attractive regional brand," added Mathieson. "Our competition can come from Shanghai as much as from the GTA and just as with other every city, region or country in the world we need to stand out with a clearly defined brand image if we want to be recognized as a place to do business."

One of the highlights of the Conference was a panel discussion on the importance of universities and colleges to the regional economy. The discussion, involving Dr. Amit Chakma, President of the University of Western Ontario, Dr. David Johnston, President of the University of Waterloo, London mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best and Stratford mayor Dan Mathieson also helped showcase a new SWEA initiative to bring all the colleges and universities in the area under its tent in a cooperative relationship.

The SWEA region is comprised of 15 counties, and some 100 individual municipalities, stretching west from Wellington County - essentially the entire "519" area code. The region's 2.5 million residents hold almost 25% of Ontario's jobs.

SWEA's role is to link governments, business and industry, as well as the academic sector to create a common vision for the region and encourage cooperative action in order to generate growth and prosperity.

SOURCE SOUTHWEST ECONOMIC ALLIANCE (SWEA)

For further information: For further information: Serge Lavoie, (519) 859-7763 or by e-mail: slavoie@swea.ca

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SOUTHWEST ECONOMIC ALLIANCE (SWEA)

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