North Canton community members took advice about improving their city from the mayor of Stratford, Ontario, Wednesday.
Mayor Dan Mathieson spoke at and told attendees of the 46th Annual Business and Communication Club Luncheon about how his city excelled in economic revitalization and reinvented itself and how North Canton — and Stark County — could do the same.
"Many people expect economic revitalization to be like a light switch," Mathieson said. "Someone tells them it's going to happen, and they want to walk in that room, turn it on and expect money to flow out. And that's not the way it is."
Mathieson's talk revolved around Stratford's path to becoming a part of the "Intelligent Community Forum." Walsh University also announced that day it would become a part of the ICF, making it the first ICF Institute in the area of education.
Here's how Walsh University describes the ICF:
The Intelligent Community Forum is a think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community. Whether in industrialized or developing nations, communities are challenged to create prosperity, stability and cultural meaning in a world where jobs, investment and knowledge increasingly depend on advances in communications. ICF seeks to share the best practices of the world’s Intelligent Communities in adapting to the demands of the Broadband Economy, in order to help communities everywhere find sustainable renewal and growth.
Mathieson said Stratford thrived in the 1800s because of the railroad industry and took several steps backward when they lost the railroad in the 1900s. But, through collaboration of local government, businesses and students, and a mindset that focused on continuous improvement, the city of about 30,000 eventually became the epicenter for digital technology in Canada. And it's also poised to have one of the world's first digital media economies.
"Here in Stark County, you have all the makings of what Stratford had," he said.
So, why does the mayor of Stratford, Ontario, care about what happens in North Canton?
"If Ontario is strong, Ohio is strong," Mathieson said. "If the institute we have in Stratford is strong, it will make the institute at Walsh University strong."
Louis Zacharilla, Walsh University alumnus ('78) and ICF co-founder also spoke at the luncheon.
To find out more about Mathieson and the Intelligent Community Forum, check out on North Canton Patch. You can also learn more on the ICF website: www.intelligentcommunity.org.