In the interest of bringing value and differentiated impact, Northern Policy Institute decided that our first five year plan should target progress in three specific areas across those six broad categories. Our work will be focused on:
- Improving MEASUREMENT and the availability of those measures to all stakeholders;
- Building sustainable community CAPACITY;
- Enhancing SELF-SUFFICIENCY (of individuals, communities, sub-regions and the region as a whole).
In selecting areas of focus for its exploration of policy solutions from and for Northern Ontario, the Northern Policy Institute Board had many models to choose from for our first five years.
In our founding grant, the funder supplied a supplemental list of areas where work could be conducted including, "without limitation", policy recommendations to:
- Support business expansion and attraction that bring new jobs and wealth to the region
- Stimulate private sector innovation investments
- Encourage and support public-private partnerships (P3s)
- Support rural, urban, aboriginal, and regional community partners in economic development initiatives
- Attract and retain youth talent that will support Northern Ontario growth
- Support economic development enablers that will create a competitive and productive Northern Ontario
- Identify and gain the highest returns on strategic investments.
The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario 2011 included a focus on six areas; a shorter list but with a broader lens:
- Aboriginal peoples
The NOHFC recently restructured its approach to helping Northern Ontario grow; their five new signature programs include:
- Strategic Economic Infrastructure Program
- Northern Community Capacity Building Program
- Northern Innovation Program
- Northern Business Opportunity Program, and
- Northern Ontario Internship Program
Similarly, many federal agencies are using a five point summary to provide focus and direction for their efforts:
- Labour market
- Business development
- Community health and well-being
In looking to our founding documents, our Letters Patent and our Bylaws, we were reminded that we set out to have a collaborative approach but to maintain our independence. That suggests we should have a similar focus, but not necessarily the same focus, as other groups.
In that light we decided to focus our efforts on a broad policy scope as per the six areas identified in the Growth Plan.
This approach will supply consistency now and into the future, but it also gives us considerable flexibility going forward as these six items cover much more than just economic growth.