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October 28, 2017 12:08 am

Economic development 2.0: Will it work?

Monday, February 22, 2016 @ 3:45 AM

At first blush, the city’s new economic development committee is more bureaucratic than business-like.

That’s because our initial reaction is to compare it to the former Initiatives Prince George (IPG) board, which was dominated by representatives of large businesses.

But let’s face it, IPG was dismantled and the board dissolved because it wasn’t delivering the results that the city wanted. So, after pulling the plug on IPG, why would Mayor Lyn Hall replace it with the same-old, same-old.

The new committee is interesting, and eclectic. It, definitely, takes a different view. If the old reasoning was that business needed to drive economic development, the new view is that local institutions and organizations need to drive it.

There are some plusses and minuses.

It’s good to see both Regional District of Fraser Fort George chief administrative officer and Lheidli Tenneh Community Economic Development manager Zishan Shah on the committee. Economic development that benefits the city isn’t limited to city boundaries. Along those lines, Susan Stearns from Community Futures is another good choice. Why would you not have an organization whose sole function is to foster economic development on your economic development committee? Northern Development Initiative Trust is another such group and CEO Janine North would have been another good choice, but is not on the committee.

One of Hall’s campaign promises was to involve our educational institutions in city governance. By putting UNBC president Daniel Weeks and CNC president Henry Reiser on the committee, Hall is following through with that promise.

For those who think that CUPE bought the last election, the addition of former provincial NDP candidate and labour lawyer Bobby Deepak and Don Iwaskow, vice-president of the North Cariboo Labour Council and Steelworkers financial agent will drive that message home. However, labour should have a seat at the economic development table.

For those think labour will dominate, there is also a good mix of business organizations: Christie Ray of the Chamber of Commerce, former city manager and now Downtown Business Improvement Association executive director Colleen Van Mook, another former city manager and now CEO Prince George and BC North Construction Association Scott Bone, and former city communications manager and now Independent Contractors and Businesses Association representative Mike Davis.

Addition of the last group is interesting. It’s new to Prince George, but provincially it’s very active. If we were in the U.S., the ICBA might be considered a SuperPAC. It is very well-funded and very vocal in its support of the provincial Liberals and criticism of the NDP.

As mentioned, it’s an eclectic group. The meetings will likely be interesting.

The size of the committee, at 17 members, will likely be unwieldy. It could easily have been a little smaller: Does it need to have the labour council and a labour lawyer? One labour representative would probably work. Does it really need UNBC and CNC on the board? One education sector representative would likely suffice. Does it really need four business organizations? One, maybe two, would work.

However, the bottom line is whether this committee, and by osmosis, the city’s new economic development function, is effective. One of the things the community clamoured for from IPG was some sort of measurable results. This new machination of economic development must be held to the same standard.


Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at billphillips1@mac.com


Good points Bill.
I know a lot of people on here were angry not enough businesses were being represented but I think most forgot that’s exactly what IPG had, and the result failed. Maybe the reps of large companies wasn’t a good way to do things. Maybe actual business owners would have been better.

Everyone was quick to mud sling at this announcement, but at least give them a shot.

Speaking to the economics of a changing world . Al Gores Vancouver Ted talk is avalable today at Ted.com . Don’t watch it deniers , it will burst all of your bubbles . He also explains why the Kochs are freaking out . Let’s hope this new board views this talk .

    Kinda leaves the deniers speechless eh !

      Atalost, how big did you say Al Gore’s house is? I’m not sure if he has several houses, as does Suzuki, but the one I’m asking about is the big one, the big one with the massive carbon footprint!

      Yes, that one! How big is it?

    hey Ataloss how much is he charging to save the world. Then there is Suzuki, a dude that spent time in a Japanese interment camp but wants to lock up anyone that disagrees with him. A real piece of work.

      So obviously you couldn’t find it . It’s Ted.com its by the guy that freed the Internet for the masses .

First off…..get us a decent Imax Theater….and a red lobster….and a performing arts center…..in that order.

    and a Benz, Montana’s, Harvey’s, Swiss Chalet, Cactus Club, Beaver Tails, Olive Garden, Jimmy the Greek, Taco Time.

I really do not care who the people on the committee are.

I want to see what the people on the committee have done to enhance the economy of this City and immediate region which is out of the extraordinary and would not have happened if they had not been in the positions they have.

In other words, lead by example.

IPG suffered because, while they could show what they had done (input) they could not show what the result of those actions were (output).

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