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New town hire will link business owners with supports

People of Collingwood: Johanna Griggs, manager of economic development with the Town of Collingwood
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Johanna Griggs is the new manager of economic development with the Town of Collingwood

She’s only been on the job for about a week, but the town’s new manager of economic development has big plans.

For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Johanna Griggs, 38, manager of economic development with the Town of Collingwood.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I’ve moved around a lot in my life. I grew up in Toronto. I spent a couple of years living in the U.S. I’ve been back in Ontario for quite a while.

Q: What took you to the U.S.?

A: My family moved there when I was young. I went to school half in the States, and half in Canada. I came back for high school, to Toronto.

Q: What did you do after you graduated?

A: I went to university. I did a year in Florida, and I finished at Western University, for philosophy and ethics.

Q: What made you move into the economic development sphere?

A: I’ve always wanted to make a contribution to the community I’ve lived in. I had an opportunity to enter public service with the province in 2009. I worked on stimulus funding for much-needed infrastructure during some downturns in the economy. That was my foray into economic development and helping to create jobs.

After that, I moved around the provincial ministry of tourism, and gained a lot of experience in investment and development for the tourism industry.

After that, I joined the Town of Wasaga Beach and worked in their economic development and tourism sectors. I worked for the County of Simcoe in economic development there.

Now, I’m here at the Town of Collingwood. I get to finally work in the community I live in.

Q: For how long have you lived in Collingwood?

A: Eight years.

Q: What brought you to Collingwood?

A: My husband and I were both looking to move out of Toronto. My husband has previously lived in Collingwood and loved living here.

We started looking for employment opportunities and when I secured the position in Wasaga Beach, we made the move.

Q: Why is economic development so important?

A: Economic development really supports the community as a whole. It provides support to our local businesses, which create jobs and create the atmosphere in the community that people are attracted to, to come to Collingwood.

Q: What about the job jumped out at you?

A: The strategic leadership within the organization, both at the council level and within the senior management team was something that was really appealing to me. The innovative, forward-thinking mentality is something you don’t often find in local municipalities. It’s really intriguing, and exciting to be a part of.

Q: What are your first impressions of the economic development sphere here?

A: There are a lot of really great partnerships that have been established, both regional, non-profit and municipal partners and within the business community. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with the Town of Collingwood as a regional partner at the county, and understand how they’re progressive with their investment attraction and support of entrepreneurship.

I think there’s opportunity to be more focused on certain sectors. We have a great manufacturing base and a huge tourism sector. There are opportunities for the town to support with more programs and services.

Q: Outside of work, what are your hobbies?

A: I love hiking, snowboarding, paddleboarding, lots of outdoor activities. I really enjoy travelling and experiencing the world.

I have a family, so that takes lots of time. I have a daughter turning three later this month, and a son that just turned five.

Q: Is there anything else you want people in Collingwood to know about you?

A: I really appreciate collaboration. My door is always open. If you have a thought, or comment, or you need help and support as a business, or as someone who is thinking about starting a business, I’m happy to help and put you in touch with programs, services and opportunities. I want everyone to succeed and feel like they’re fulfilling their vision and dream.

I want to act as a concierge, or a single point of contact so if a business needs support from town hall they can come to me and I can help them navigate that, whether it’s planning, building, or heritage.

I know business owners are short on time.

Whatever I can do to be of assistance, is important.

For our feature People of Collingwood, we speak with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature runs on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected].


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 14 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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