Quarterly News – February 2020
Welcome to the first issue of our new Quarterly News. As you may have heard me say before, economic development is a team sport. We all have a role to play, and we need to stay connected in our efforts. This newsletter is our organization’s way of ensuring that our community is informed of the work we’re doing to grow our region.
For those of you who attended Momentum 2019, our inaugural economic strategy luncheon, you heard me speak about WBED’s priorities for 2020.
These priorities are linked back to each of our operational pillars and have clear deliverables that will drive economic impact for the region. I wanted to highlight these for you so that you can see how our activities relate back to our priorities.
BRAND & CORPORATE SERVICES
2020 Priority: Develop and promote our region’s Place Brand
1. Launch a Place Brand for our region
2. Establish a Place Brand Leadership Committee
3. Develop a new WBED corporate brand identity
BUSINESS & INVESTMENT ATTRACTION
2020 Priority: Aggressively pursue targeted retail & commercial opportunities
1. Attract two (2) national or international brand retailers or franchisees to the region
2. Launch a 2020 Retail Analysis Report
2020 Priority: Create a focused Meetings, Conventions & Sport Tourism Sales Strategy
1. Attract five (5) new future events to the region (meetings, conventions, festivals, or sport tournaments)
2. Amplify five (5) local Festivals & Events with targeted marketing campaigns
3. Support the development of two (2) new Adventure Tourism Operators
ENTREPRENEURSHIP & INNOVATION
2020 Priority: Build momentum of
1. Grand opening of Startup YMM
2. Deliver a Mentorship Program
3. Launch a technology makerspace
In 2019, we amalgamated with Fort McMurray Tourism Ltd. One of our first achievements was attracting one of Western Canada’s premier business conferences to our region, 55 North.
Attracting conferences like 55 North is a key deliverable for our Tourism pillar. Bringing events that attract attendees from other communities drives economic impact from hotel room rentals and increased spending at our local restaurants and shops. It also gives us a chance to introduce attendees to our community. As a community, we need to support the conventions and conferences that we successfully attract here by welcoming the visitors to our region; as this may be the first time they experience our wonderful community, let’s show them what makes us truly special.
Welcome Back Canada Customs Services
In January 2020, we achieved another significant milestone. We welcomed back Canada Customs services to the Fort McMurray International Airport. Thanks to a strategic partnership and investment by WBED and the Fort McMurray Airport Authority (FMAA), we can now attract more transborder flights to our region. Increasing connectivity is a key driver for economic growth.
These are big wins for our community, ones that we have achieved by being intentional, focused and collaborative. As we take on more of these opportunities, we will rely heavily on a strong place brand to attract new talent, new retail opportunities, and new businesses.
PLACE BRAND ROUNDTABLES
As we develop our region’s place brand in 2020, we want to make sure the community stays involved. We encourage you to attend one of our Place Brand Roundtables to learn more about what a place brand is, what it means for our region, and for us to share where we are at in the process.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING MORE OF OUR REGION’S ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SUCCESS WITH YOU THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
Kevin Weidlich, CEO Wood Buffalo Economic Development
POISED FOR GROWTH
Over the past five years, our region has been positioning itself for significant growth.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has oversized basic infrastructure (water, roads, sewer), preparing the region to accommodate more than double the current population. We have two new neighbourhoods set to accommodate up to 44,000 people and large-scale commercial development. And with our growing population and leading affordability, this region is ripe for more local retail services, making it a prime choice for investment.
A GROWING POPULATION
AN AVAILABLE WORKFORCE
Fort McMurray & Wood Buffalo 8.7%
THE 2ND MOST AFFORDABLE PLACE TO LIVE IN CANADA
Average household income
Fort McMurray & Wood Buffalo $211,748
Discretionary income per household
Fort McMurray & Wood Buffalo $112,416
House price to income ratio