Chamber of commerce looking for fresh ideas as part of 2019 Economic Development Forum

Herald file photo.

After two straight years of looking at what not to do, the Prince Albert and Area Chamber of Commerce wants to focus on what strong communities are supposed to do.

The Community Economic Development Forums held in 2017 and 2018 focused on 13 Ways to Kill a Community, a presentation from former MLA Doug Griffiths about the attitudes and actions that undermine community development. In 2019, however, the Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce is bringing in community coach and Saskatchewan Economic Development Association facilitator Cherylynn Walters with a focus, author of Strategic Doing, which looks at step-by-step processes that make communities successful.

Chamber CEO Elise Hildebrandt said after two years of looking at stopping problems, the chamber wanted to focus on creating opportunities.

“I think it’s going to be a positive, because any time you can get people involved, it’s better,” Hildebrandt said. “We get to put our ideas forward, and I always find it amazing. Somebody puts forward an idea and (you think), ‘that’s not bad.’”

Hildebrandt said they’re hoping to engage businesses and leaders in both the City of Prince Albert and surrounding rural municipalities. Ideally, she’d like to see those groups work together more, especially since their economic health is so closely connected.

“We need both,” she said. “We need the city to work with the region and we need the region to work with the city. Often, I think, it may have been seen that they were two separate areas.”

Hildebrandt added that the chamber is in the process of getting feedback from local members about what direction they want to see the area take. Once they have that feedback, she explained, they’ll have a better understanding of what the Chamber needs to do and how it can be most effective.

Until then, she’s looking for local business owners and community leaders to step forward with their ideas at this year’s forum.

“Take part,” she said. “If we don’t take part in what goes on in our community, I don’t think we have a right to complain if it’s not going according to (plan).”

The 2019 Economic Development Forum is scheduled for May 30 at the Ches Leach Lounge, running from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event includes lunch and a networking coffee break. Tickets are available on the Prince Albert and Area Chamber of Commerce website.

Editor’s Note: the print version of this story incorrectly identified Cherylynn Walters as a University of Saskatchewan researcher. She is community coach and facilitator with the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association. The online story and e-edition have her correct titles.