Yesterday morning was EEDC’s first ONEdmonton Leaders Forum. The series of events aims to “bring together the region’s most influential leaders to discuss key topics affecting our community.” I am honored to have been invited to participate, likely to represent “youth” along with Cary Williams and a few others. Just over 90 of the 150 or so invited leaders attended the event, and while I’m not going to name any names (aside from the speakers) rest assured it was a very impressive collection of individuals.
The morning started with a welcome and overview from EEDC Board Chair and COO of ProCura, Randy Ferguson. He invited EEDC President & CEO Ron Gilbertson to set the stage for the event. Ron talked about where Edmonton is today (one of 307 mid-size cities in the world) and where we’d like to be. He focused on two key areas: economic success, and quality of life, referencing the Conference Board of Canada’s prosperity ratings as he went. After providing some context, Randy and Ron shared EEDC’s Vision (PDF):
To ensure Edmonton is recognized as one of the world’s top 5 mid-size cities by 2030.
I like it, and I think others in the room did too. That’s the vision the group will be aligning on and working toward achieving. The idea is to try to speak with one voice, hence the title of the forum.
After a quick break, we heard from four speakers:
- Reg Milley, President & CEO, Edmonton Airports. Reg talked about the new Stop The Calgary Habit campaign, and about the importance of a healthy local airport. The slogan for the campaign, “when you go south, so does your air service” says it all. Reg implored everyone to “shop local” for air travel.
- Jim Taylor, Executive Director, Downtown Business Association. Jim talked about the incredible transformations that have happened downtown in the last decade, and a little about what’s coming. He mentioned that the “cumulative story” is what’s important – all of the changes in aggregate are pretty impressive.
- Sol Rolingher, C.St. J., Q.C., Duncan & Craig LLP, River Valley Alliance Chair. Sol talked about the importance of preserving, protecting, and enhancing the river valley, and about local heritage. He has been working with others to preserve some Edmonton artifacts throughout the river valley. I thought he was an incredible speaker, very passionate. He also gave everyone a copy of this awesome map.
- Dave Mowat, President & CEO, ATB Financial, EXPO Bid Committee. Dave, with a little help from Randy, talked about the EXPO 2017 bid. I got the feeling that many in the room are excited for the bid, because it’s an opportunity to achieve big things all at once. There was nothing new for me in the presentation, but it was still a good overview.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of time for questions or further discussion, but it sounds like they’ll be working on improving that for future forums. I would have made the following comment, had there been time:
We know we have successes here, but we often don’t do a very good job of telling our story. Like Jim’s “cumulative story” on downtown, or the thriving local tech startup scene (reference by someone else in the group). We need to become better storytellers in order to achieve the vision.
Looking forward to the next forum!