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Mayor focused on keeping Magna in Aurora

February 27, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Mayor Tom Mrakas has reaffirmed his efforts to keep Magna’s headquarters in Aurora.

Mayor Mrakas outlined ongoing talks between his office and Magna, one of the Town’s largest employers, at the annual Mayor’s Luncheon, hosted by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon.

Nearly 250 Chamber members, dignitaries and residents at large came out to the Royal Venetian Mansion on Industrial Parkway South for the occasion, which has become a “State of the Town” tradition for the Head of Council.

There, Mayor Mrakas focused on a year of “positive change” as well as tasks ahead.

Among these tasks, he said, were making the Town an attractive place for Magna to stay, securing government grants to bring Council’s vision of Library Square to fruition, and addressing the needs of Wellington Street East businesses that will be impacted by Metrolinx’s ambitious project to build an underpass across one of Aurora’s busiest thoroughfares ahead of increased GO Train service.

“One of the things I am most proud of is the work we have done and are continuing to do to keep the Magna headquarters in Town,” said Mayor Mrakas. “Although calling Aurora home since 1997, Magna announced in 2015 that they would be leaving their existing headquarters and would [build] a new facility in a neighbouring municipality.”

Magna’s decision to build a large campus on lands secured in King Township have been put on the backburner since then and Mayor Mrakas said, “the company recently began their search for a new home once again.”

“Since becoming Mayor, I have made it a priority to work with [Magna CEO] Don Walker and senior executives at Magna to ensure that they stay here in Aurora,” he continued. “Now, I have been a very vocal advocate for Aurora as the best place for them to stay and continue to grow their business. Since joining our community more than two decades ago, they have been one of the biggest corporate headquarters to call Aurora home. Magna has not only brought international recognition to our Town, it has generated hundreds of important jobs for our community. Aurora offers a highly educated and skilled workforce and having residents be able to work close to home at companies like Magna has always been a priority.

“When Magna announced that they would be moving out of Aurora, it was a huge blow to our community. Aside from the economic impacts of Magna leaving, there are social impacts as well. Magna has been an incredible community partner, supporting many of our local charities through the Magna Hoedown. This annual event has raised over $13 million of much needed funds for hundreds of charities. Through its Magna in the Community organization, Neighbourhood Network, Magna has shown a strong commitment to building a better community.”

Since his election in 2018, Mayor Mrakas says he has been able to sit down with Magna executives to “get a sense of what is needed to keep them” in Aurora and “make Aurora as attractive as possible for businesses to see our community as a place where they can build, and grow, and thrive. Now, I am optimistic that companies will see Aurora the way I do and will consider making an investment in their future by coming to or staying in Aurora.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s lunch, Mayor Mrakas promised a “big announcement” but, at the last minute, this announcement was postponed, pushed to the weeks ahead. He was mum on any possible teasers on what the announcement might entail, but said “it is a very exciting time for Aurora.”

But there are also some challenges ahead, some of which were addressed to the Mayor following the speech in a question and answer session led by Sandra Ferri, Executive Director of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

Here, Ms. Ferri pressed Mayor Mrakas on what he attributes the cause of so many storefront vacancies along the Yonge Street corridor.

“I have always said we haven’t invested in our own community and we’re starting to do that,” he said. “Through the Library Square project, through the Armoury. Library Square is a $51-, $52-million project. We, as a Town, are investing in our own community and that says a lot to the development community and other businesses; if someone is looking to invest their hard-earned dollars into our community and we’re not willing to invest in it…I am hearing a lot [from] the development community they’re looking to come in now because they see us taking action and making decisions.”

The future of Library Square, he stressed, was not contingent on grant funding from the upper levels of government.

“The grants are a bonus,” he said. “If it happens, we get it, it’s great. We have the money, we have the Hydro Reserve funds. We sold a Town asset (Aurora Hydro) and those funds were earmarked for creating a Town asset and that’s what we’re doing. As much as we would love to get the grants…I am going to fight tooth and nail to make sure we get that money, those grants, but at the end of the day, the Town has the assets to be able to develop this project and it’s the right time, the right place to develop this project for the Town. It is only going to mean bigger and better things for our Town through economic development and our business communities.”

By Brock Weir



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