Mayor Don Iveson has told delegates to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention going on at the Shaw Conference Centre that some progress has been made to spur job creation in metro Edmonton in talks with the province. That’s in the wake of Monday’s agreement with nine regional leaders to work more closely together through the Metro Mayors’ Agreement.
“In Edmonton, we are working to build a stronger, more effective, more competitive and more collaborative Edmonton Metro Region,” he said in his speech. “We welcome Minister Larivee and Minister Bilious’ support as this work advances.”
“I’ve talked to both ministers about some support from one of the new regional economic development funds to help really catalyze the next steps of forming the regional economic development agency and they’re very supportive,” Iveson told reporters. “We obviously have to get some paper work in place, but I think this could move quickly and we could be in a position soon to be attracting jobs and investment to this region more aggressively which the economy really really needs now.”
“The sooner we start the regional development economic development agency, the sooner we can be out there more effectively bringing investment to this region and this province.”
The goal is to merge the $13 million that is in the EEDC budget and have it work building consensus with other agencies in the metro Edmonton region. “We need to spend probably a little bit of money, one time at least in order to figure out how to optimize the resources that are out there and combine them together to achieve a stronger impact in terms of brand recognition with investors and with labour for Edmonton, which we’ve got a great story to tell. We just haven’t told it effectively.”
“We’ll want to spring into action as quickly as possible to try to bring more investment here but really it’s going to leverage and build off of the good work that the Industrial Heartland Association, Edmonton Economic Development, the Airports Authority, the University, lots of other folks have been doing really good work, but it’ll be for the people who do economic development for a living with support from the mayors to bring it to life.”
Deron Bilous is leading a delegation to China in November, however Iveson said it’s unlikely they’ll have a plan together by then since the trip is less than a month away. But he is looking at the longer term. “We do have a lot of resources in play and if there’s more resources from the province to help us figure out how to work together more effectively that’ll be helpful in the short term. If there’s more resources to increase our reach down the road as well on an ongoing basis, that would also be helpful.”