Wood Buffalo is joining cities like Calgary and Edmonton in creating its own Economic Development Corporation.
Council unanimously supported the organization on Tuesday – a group they see ensuring “the long-term economic success and viability” of the region.
The WBEDC will look to improve the community’s brand, attract and support businesses, and overall help strengthen the local economy.
Chair of the RMWB Economic Development Task Force Dan Fouts tells Mix News this step in the right direction has been a long time coming.
“What we have right now isn’t working, when you look at similar size communities across the country and North America they have these economic development organizations that pursue, market, and bring investment to communities as well as work local companies, tourism, sport organizations., non-profits within the community to create better opportunities.”
“We don’t have that right now, we need to work with industry and around industry to strengthen not only the investment here but the community – we need to improve livability, we need to encourage stores to come here and invest, we need events, we need all these sorts of things.”
Mayor Don Scott told a packed crowd at their meeting “he’s extremely greedy for the region” adding he expects great things to happen through the organization.
“It’s going to be able to reach out and get the shops and services and investments I believe the region deserves and it’s also going to support existing businesses, so it’s an important step to take.”
Wood Buffalo is now joining multiple cities across the country who have their own EDC, including Calgary and Edmonton.
Back in 2010, council had passed a resolution to prepare a bylaw to create Economic Development Advisory Committee but was never followed through with and continues to remain “outstanding.”
“It’s unfortunate,” added Fouts. “Why it hasn’t been acted upon – I can’t answer that.”
The organization has a general idea of what their startup budget will look like. Originally, they were to receive the remaining funds from the Small Business Workforce Support Program, around $8 million, and $40,000 from the Recovery Operating Budget.
The big concern for council was the total amount of funds, something they will now review before moving forward with allocating a specific amount.
Fouts notes he’s hoping to see everything up and running, including hiring a CEO and recruiting board members, within the next eight months.