A long-time member of the city's economic development department is leaving City Hall.
Dan Landry, who was hired by the municipality 12 years ago, is retiring from his job with the city as of Sept. 14.
Landry, 62, was hired as the city's manager of economic development in August of 2009, and said he's proud of the role he played in helping Orillia realize its potential.
"It's definitely rewarding to see how our efforts have put Orillia on the map," said Landry, who came to Orillia in 1983 to work at the former Orillia Packet & Times, and then launched and ran his own marketing company for a decade before joining the city.
Landry said he used his 25-plus years of marketing and communications experience to "get the word out" that Orillia and the surrounding area was a relatively under-developed and under-valued investment opportunity.
"Within a couple of years, Orillia was being recognized provincially and nationally as a top investment prospect, and moving up the list of the top places to live in Canada," said Landry.
"That led to a number of developers beginning to check out our city. Over time, the tire kickers turned into prospects who have followed through by making substantial investments in and around the community."
Landry said he was one of the "key architects" of the Downtown Tomorrow study, which continues to act as the city's roadmap for development linking Orillia's waterfront to the downtown core, and which laid the foundation for the current waterfront redevelopment project.
More than a decade ago, Landry spearheaded the development of municipal incentive programs, including the Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement Plan and the industrial development charge (DC) moratorium, which have also acted to entice and encourage development and investment throughout the city.
He noted he also also worked with many of the city’s major industrial players to "foster and facilitate expansion and job growth," including Kubota Materials Corporation, Paradigm Precision, Thermon (formerly CCI Thermal), Pattison Signs, Berry Plastics, Polyethics and Leadbetter Foods.
"Every one of those expansions represents more investment and more jobs in the city, and acted to more deeply root those companies in our community," explained Landry.
"By actively cultivating these expansions, the city has shown its willingness to partner with existing companies in their growth strategies, which will pay dividends for years if not decades down the road."
Landry also played a "lead role" in the development, servicing and marketing of the Horne Business Park in West Orillia, which paved the way for the expansive Hydro One developments unfolding along University Avenue and the arrival of Costco to Orillia, solidifying the city as a regional commercial hub.
Landry says other accomplishments over the past decade include: working with Bell to make Orillia its next choice for full-fibre internet connectivity; leading a team which developed the current City of Orillia logo; and working with the Economic Recovery Task Force to assist local businesses through the COVID-19 era.
Among these accomplishments, what Landry is most proud of has been his role as an advocate for local business at City Hall.
"I think I’ve earned the respect of most of the business community because they could come to me with a question or concern and know that I would help them,” he said. “If I didn’t have the answer, I would always help them find it.”
Landry believes that working with, and on behalf of local business, is the fundamental role of an economic developer within a municipality, something he promoted within City Hall and beyond.
"I'm proud to say that I was the guy at City Hall who told people what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear," said Landry.
As for why he's retiring from the city now, Landry says the reasons are both simple and personal. He and his wife Sue welcomed their first grandchild earlier this year.
"If going through COVID has shown us anything, it's that we are thankful to have our health and that family and flexibility should be priorities right now."
With that said, Landry won’t be putting his feet up for long. Next week he starts a part-time role with the local Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) as a small business consultant.
"I'm still very interested in making a difference when it comes to the future of our community," he said. "And, I don't think my wife is ready to have me around all the time quite yet."