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Economic Development Corporation CEO Kevin Weidlich addresses YMM Chamber

Last Updated Mar 21, 2019 at 10:16 pm MST

Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Kevin Weidlich gave the keynote address at todays Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting. Photo taken by Phil Wood, reporter, MyMcMurray.com.

Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President and CEO Kevin Weidlich addressed members at the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting.

With his staff now in place, Weidlich says their top priority is the establishment of a positive brand for Wood Buffalo.

“That means developing a narrative, and you do that by storytelling. The first thing you have to do is make sure it’s authentic, so we’re going to travel throughout the region having interviews with various people and drawing their stories. So, we can create a master story that allows us to express our region in various ways.”

Included in his plan is pursuing a resource hub for entrepreneurs, assisting local businesses compete globally, and developing tourism plans.

Speaking of tourism, The EDC will acquire the services of Fort McMurray Tourism to develop those plans.

The tourism board will hold its annual general meeting to discuss the merger on March 27, 2019.

Low-hanging fruit

Weidlich also addressed assisting small businesses to compete outside globally.

He encourages all businesses, including those owned and operated by Dene, Métis, and other First Nations partners to become part of the new vision.

“You have a very successful business where you’re selling a product that people want? Well, you don’t only have to sell your product to Fort McMurray. We live in a globally integrated market with online access; how about we sell your product elsewhere?”

Taking advantage of the regional brand and state-of-the-art facilities is important to growing the region as well.

Securing the bid of the 2022 Arctic Winter Games was an important step in that direction.

“There’s no question that we have amazing recreation facilities,” added Kevin Weidlich. “So let’s fill them with tournaments and get something going on every weekend of the year.”

Increased activity means drawing the attention of external markets, which facilitates the exchange of ideas and new business possibilities.

Facts and figures

  • The Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce elected six new directors to their board.
  • Part of its Shop Local initiative, the Passport Program generated more than $665,000 in local business revenue in the past four years.
  • 90 new members joined the Chamber of Commerce in the past year.
  • 10 ribbon-cutting ceremonies also took place in 2018.