In 2018, we were reminded of a lesson we have learned before: we cannot expect our challenges to be solved by others, and we cannot trust our fate to decisions being made somewhere else. We, as Edmontonians, achieve more when we come together to envision the kind of city we want to live in and work together to make it happen. I know this because we have faced pivotal moments in our City’s story many times before. I have seen what happens when Edmonton rises to meet a challenge.
The 1980s and 1990s were tough for Edmonton. To pull Edmonton through, we required collaboration from many people with a diversity of expertise. We have been very fortunate that so many committed and talented people stepped forward, taking on the mantle of city builders to drive deeper conversations about what we wanted our city to be. City builders recognize that our city is more than a network of roads and a collection of buildings. A thriving community requires people who want to build lives here, it requires a strong economy so that people can find opportunities to provide for themselves and their families, and it requires arts and culture, sports, recreation, educational institutions, and philanthropic investments.
In recent months, our economic discussions have been paralyzed by the pipeline issue. While this is a critical issue, for most of us the most effective thing we can do is work on the things within our organizations, supply chains and networks that we can control and influence. I believe we need to tune out things we cannot control so that we can spend time working on what we can control – what the Edmonton approach to economic prosperity and resilience must look like moving forward.
In November, at our mid-year Shareholder meeting, Edmonton City Council approved a provisional expanded mandate for EEDC. This expansion in mandate gives us responsibility to provide economic development strategy advice to City Council, in addition to our current economic development, tourism and venue responsibilities, through which we drive nearly $200 million in economic impact annually. It is our commitment to you that our approach to strategy development will be open and collaborative, and that we will reflect the diverse needs and perspectives of our community in the recommendations we develop.
In developing strategy, we need to look at our economic system, and how all the parts of our economy work together. My sense is that focusing on prosperity and resilience will identify many opportunities for businesses and organizations to improve and grow and to support others in that journey. I see an overall leveling-up of our economy as key to achieving our goals. We need to have a conversation about the key drivers of our economy; the most effective ways to increase outputs that will create prosperity and instill resilience. EEDC is positioned to serve as the convener and facilitator of these conversations and, with many other partners, to assist in implementation.
Given this expanded mandate, EEDC will be conducting comprehensive public engagement sessions over the next few months. Throughout Edmonton’s history we have demonstrated, repeatedly that we, the community, are the solution to the challenges that confront us. Waiting for outside help is not what we do. Taking responsibility together to face our challenges is the Edmonton way. I believe that everyone in their own way and with their own expertise is driving to create greater prosperity and resilience for our city. The only way to understand these concepts in a new, more impactful way is to share our unique experience and expertise with each other.
Everyone has an opportunity to have their voice heard. Now is the time to get involved in charting Edmonton’s path forward. Visit EEDC.ca to sign-up for an engagement session or leave your feedback.
Derek Hudson is the CEO of Edmonton Economic Development (EEDC), an arms-length, multi-divisional, multi-location agency of the City of Edmonton, aligned through unified purpose, vision and values. The organization operates six divisions, which include Edmonton Tourism, Edmonton Convention Centre, Edmonton EXPO Centre, Innovate Edmonton, Enterprise Edmonton and Corporate Services.