Farewell to Greater Sudbury's camera-shy economic development wizard: Retiring EDO Paul Reid inspired creation of Sudbury's mining cluster.

Author:MacDonald, Darren

Far from the headlines, Paul Reid has spent the last two decades working to grow Greater Sudbury.

The economic development officer did make headlines briefly in 2012, when he was able to salvage a plan to build a chromite smelter in Greater Sudbury, way back in the days when Cliffs Natural Resources still owned the major Ring of Fire deposits.

The company had come here to scout a location, which proved unsuitable.

They turned to Reid, who knew the area as well as anyone, and he found an alternative within minutes.

"(Cliffs) wanted a brownfield, they wanted it near rail, they needed hydro and they needed it to be away from built-up areas," former Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour said at the time. "Reid suggested an old mine site north of Capreol."

Within a few hours, they had booked a helicopter and were on their way to take a look at the former Moose Mountain Mine site, located 21 kilometres north of Capreol. "Cliffs saw the site and were pleased with what they saw. It really fit their needs," Kilgour said.

Kilgour, who passed away in 2017, made it a point to let the media know it was the publicity-adverse Reid who had, at least temporarily, saved the day.

It's that kind of economic wizardry that Reid, and the other economic development staff, are tasked with doing.

They not only have to know the city like few others, they have to understand the local economy, the market forces that drive that economy, and the needs of companies looking to invest in the Nickel City. Cliffs later sold their stake in the Ring of Fire. The chromite deposit is still undeveloped.

Still, it gave insight into what people like Reid do every day. If things had turned out differently, it would have been a $1-billion investment in the city and hundreds of jobs.

Reid, who retired in December, is still adverse to publicity. He agreed to an interview on the condition the story would make it clear that he's part of a team.

After a career in sales, he came to Greater Sudbury in 1999 on a contract with the former Region of Sudbury, and was later hired at what became the Greater Sudbury Development Corp.

From the start, he focused on the city's mining supply and services sector, an area Reid said had the most potential in an era when mining companies were shrinking the size of their workforces.

"I believed it was under-represented in the economic strategy of the old Region and in the new...

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