New advisory board expected to push economic development in right direction
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 14, 2013 06:00 am
A former school board trustee wants to actively participate in decisions impacting local schools as she advises the city on future economic development.
Jacquie Hansen – past member of the Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board and the Alberta School Boards Association – was recently selected by city administration as one of 12 members to join the new inaugural Economic Development Advisory Board. The board will counsel the city’s economic development team in its efforts to attract new business to the community.
“What we want to do is attract people into our city and it’s business owners that we want to attract into our city as well as residential people,” Hansen said. “We want people to spend money here, we want people to stay here and if they know that they are coming into a place with great education they may start up a business here.”
Hansen said she decided to join the board because education is an important economic driver in the community. She also hopes to add a voice to the impact economic development has on local schools and their members.
But Hansen is only one among a diverse group of local residents and business owners selected to advise St. Albert’s economic development team. Other members are part of the local business community, academics, urban planners, developers, financial specialists, realtors, and people with links to independent business start-ups and technology.
“We weren’t looking for consensus. What we were looking for were people that had an exciting energy and vision of what St. Albert could be,” said Guy Boston, executive director for economic development. “And (people) that had the personal characteristics and traits that would create a very dynamic and collegial board.”
Jim Hole, co-owner of the Enjoy Centre, said the board has great potential to attract new businesses but also support existing ones. A large part of discussion on the board would be to decide what is best for the city and how everyone can work together to keep St. Albert a vibrant community, he said.
“If we make a commitment to go and say attract a category of business then let’s really make sure that we have some concrete things that we will achieve,” he said. ”And it’s not just talk but that we are going to go out and do it.”
Charlene Zoltenko, owner of St. Albert State Farm Insurance, said she was a former member of St. Albert Economic Development Advisory Committee (SAEDAC) and the task force that set up the new board – so joining the group was only the next logical step.
As a business owner, she said it was important to her that St. Albert not only developed its commercial and industrial sectors, but also created affordable housing options to support workers moving to the community.
“I think if we will have places like Costco and retail and all that and we don’t have (affordable housing options) then there’s no place for the workers to live," she said. “We need to have that balance.”
Boston said the city decided on a broad diversity of backgrounds, demographics and expertise in choosing the applicants to best represent the city's diverse interest groups. The board is replacing the former St. Albert Economic Development Advisory Committee (SAEDAC) and the Brand Leadership Team.
Boston said SAEDAC consisted of over 22 members and working with a large group became too difficult. Meetings took a long time and the group could often not find a consensus, he said. He stressed that the new board was not replacing economic development but will advise his team and give constructive criticism on what directions they should take based on community interest.
“We provide some of the information on some of the initiatives that we have on the go and the board will consider these in the context of what they see as we should be doing and interject that into our work plan,” Boston said.
An orientation meeting is planned for Sept. 24. Boston said the group will use part of the meeting to describe their interest in the board to avoid future conflicts of interest. They will also elect a chair to represent them at city council meetings.