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Helping to spread the word


North Bay turned a page Monday in its strategy to attract immigrants to help fill the void being created by a baby boomer generation nearing retirement.

A new website portal was unveiled at the Best Western Lakeshore Drive that highlights why the city is a good choice for a new home or business investment, as well as links to services assisting immigrant transitions.

Three consulting firms were involved in the research and design of the site funded by a $270,000 grant from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

Nipissing MPP Monique Smith said it's part of a $10-million initiative across the province allowing 18 communities to showcase their assets.

The goal is to get new Canadians to consider places outside Toronto, where the majority of immigrants settle.

Mayor Vic Fedeli said boomers are leaving their jobs

by the thousands" across Canada and North Bay firms are telling him they may not be able to keep their offices here without trained individuals to replace retirees.

We need immigrants in North Bay," Fedeli said, describing how five senior staff are soon leaving city jobs and it's the same at Ontario Northland, the Ministry of Transportation, Canadore College and Nipissing University.

He said the fears about finding professionals echo in the private sector with Redpath Engineering and Cementation warning him that North Bay doesn't have the bodies to fill positions.

It's very important to be proactive to solve that problem . . . in North Bay we are ahead of the curve," he said, referring to the North Bay Newcomer Network, North Bay and District Multicultural Centre and the new website.

Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota said the portal gives prospective immigrants a broader view of the opportunities here, describing how his grandfather arrived on Ellis Island in New York in 1902.

Rota said the only information his grandfather had was word from a friend who worked for the railway in North Bay.

It really makes it easier," he said, adding that it may also help landed immigrants living in other parts of Canada who may want to relocate.

Marla Tremblay, the city's economic development officer, said the province will soon offer translation into 14 languages for some of the static portions of the website.

But Tremblay said many parts of the website involve data that changes regularly, making translation expensive, and she said they wouldn't want newcomers to expect services in their language.

She said three separate requests for proposals were tendered for the research necessary to build a site that serves a specific purpose, gathering of information from service providers and site design.

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