The fastest growing city in Ontario is preparing for an economic boom.

Recent success attracting jobs to the London region is outpacing the local labour market— leaving many businesses struggling to hire new employees.

On Tuesday, the London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) asked a committee of city council to spend $1.5 million over three years on a talent attraction initiative to grow the local workforce.

According to a report, the initiative will “identify, recruit, and connect targeted newcomers, entrepreneurs, and international students with London employers’ needs.”

“We have at least 6,000 jobs that are going to be happening in this community in the next short while, and that can be as high as 8,000 to 10,000,” Mayor Ed Holder told his council colleagues.

The anticipated opening of Maple Leaf Foods, Amazon, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) headquarters, and several new manufacturers in the coming years could lead to an economically debilitating labour shortage.

In addition to programs that upgrade the talents of existing workers, London will look globally to solve its worker shortage and skills gaps.

Coun. Jesse Helmer emphasized that remote work has globalized the labour market, “It’s a totally different talent pool how we recruit people and I want to make sure our efforts are keeping up with that.”

The recent Don’t Tell Toronto campaign by LEDC encouraged workers and residents of the Greater Toronto Area to consider moving to London.

The one-year marketing campaign cost about $400,000.

Several councillors questioned if the new globally-focussed initiative will require a much higher budget.

“We hear from companies about their need to attract talented labour to fill their jobs, but I don’t see a financial commitment from them to help us with this,” said Coun. Shawn Lewis.

The Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee unanimously backed spending $1.5 million from the $10 million pandemic economic and social recovery fund.

“We’re going to diversify the geography of this recruitment. Not just looking at China and India but we’ll be looking around the globe and down to the U.S.” said Lewis.

Holder emphasized the urgency, saying, “We need to bring more people to this community. That’s absolutely critical to the success and growth of this city.”