Wood Buffalo Economic Development

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MEDIA ADVISORY

For Immediate Release – October 29, 2019

Wood Buffalo Economic Development set to host inaugural economic strategy luncheon – Momentum 2019

Panelists will include Gregg Saretsky (Former WestJet CEO), Karim Zariffa (Oil Sands Community Alliance), and Annette Antoniak (RMWB)

Fort McMurray, AB – An upcoming luncheon will bring together prominent regional leaders to discuss awakening Canada to the importance of Fort McMurray.

The inaugural luncheon will be hosted on December 3rd and will bring together a powerful mix of the region’s most notable influencers, business leaders, city builders and government officials to share insights, find inspiration, make connections and identify opportunities for growth in the local economy. The session’s panelists will include Gregg Saretsky, former WestJet CEO and Board Chair of WBEDC; Annette Antoniak, CAO of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo; and Karim Zariffa, Executive Director at the Oil Sands Community Alliance.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of this inaugural event which will provide us the opportunity to discuss our economic priorities and opportunities while engaging with regional leaders,” says Kevin Weidlich, CEO of Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation (WBEDC). “This will be a chance to have an open and honest conversation about what we can do together as a community to build Fort McMurray’s economic advantage.”

This is a ticketed event which includes a catered lunch. The program will be followed by a media scrum with Kevin Weidlich, CEO, WBEDC.

Event Details

Date: Tuesday December 3, 2019

Time: 11:30-1:30pm

Location: Shell Place, Grand Ballroom, 1 MacDonald Dr, Fort McMurray, AB

RSVP: We will be reserving for media on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please contact Andrea Haley to confirm attendance:

(780) 799-5820

Andrea@choosewoodbuffalo.ca

News Release

BUSINESS SUPPORT NETWORK LAUNCHES BUSINESS VISITATION PROGRAM AND SURVEY

(Fort McMurray, Alberta – October 17, 2019) As part of Small Business Week beginning October 21, the Business Support Network (BSN) of Wood Buffalo is launching a business visitation program and survey to better understand local business needs and challenges.

Between October 21 and 24, a team of BSN representatives will be visiting dozens of Fort Murray businesses to meet with the community face-to-face to better understand businesses’ needs.

While the BSN team will not be able to visit each business in the Fort McMurray area over the four days, all local businesses are welcome to provide feedback through the survey which is posted online.  The survey will be open from October 21 until November 4 at www.choosewoodbuffalo.ca/bvp.

Findings from these initiatives will help the BSN plan resources and identify opportunities to provide effective support for the local business community. A report with a summary of feedback and findings will be made available in the weeks following the survey.

The Business Support Network (BSN) of Wood Buffalo is a collaborative group of non-profit and government agencies that provides free business support to small and medium-sized organizations throughout the region. Partners from the BSN include:

The Business Visitation Program survey will be available online from October 21–November 4 at www.choosewoodbuffalo.ca/bvp

Follow the Business Support Network at Facebook @BusinessSupportNetworkWB/

Fort McMurray Tourism Signs off on Amalgamation with WBEDC

Fort McMurray, AB. Mar. 27, 2019.  Fort McMurray Tourism completed the last major step in the process of amalgamating with the Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation, voting at its Annual General Meeting to dissolve as a corporate entity and fully join the new regional corporation.

“This has been a lengthy and detailed strategic process,” said Jonathan Lambert, outgoing Chair of Fort McMurray Tourism. “Both organizations have worked to find the right solutions so that our transition framework aligns important issues like resources, economic benchmarks, and the value proposition of the tourism sector.” “Together we will create more opportunities for sustainable regional economic growth without duplicating efforts or contradictory brand development,” said Lambert.

“Tourism is a core driver of the regional economy and thus an essential component of the strategy, structure, and culture of the WBEDC,” said Kevin Weidlich, WBEDC’s Chief Executive Officer.  “This amalgamation will enhance Wood Buffalo’s tourism sector in areas such as brand, marketing, pursuit, sales, delivery and measurement of initiatives.”  “We are looking forward to continue to work closely with the local tourism operators in the best interests of our region.”

Following the AGM vote, existing Tourism staff will report to WBEDC effective April 1, with financial and other resources transferring by April 30.  “We expect a smooth transition with staff continuing to be based at the Oilsands Discovery Centre,” said Weidlich. “In addition, all existing tourism telephone numbers and online contacts will continue to be operational.”

Weidlich also noted that Fort McMurray Tourism will continue to be a trade name following the amalgamation. “This quality brand will assist WBEDC with its ongoing work in tourism and ensure that it starts with a brand advantage in the local community of quality results and community connection,” he said.

To arrange a media interview or for more information about tourism e-mail Kristin Catto at Kristin@VisitFMT.com or telephone at 780-370-9754; economic development (WBEDC) e-mail Erin Morris at Erin.Morris@WBEDC.ca or 780-381-5738.

ABOUT THE WOOD BUFFALO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION: Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation is a wholly-owned entity of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, governed by an independent Board of Directors, and tasked with increasing the growth, innovation, prosperity and resilience of the economy of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Visit www.wbedc.ca for more information.

New Economic Development Corporation Appoints First CEO

Fort McMurray, AB – December 19, 2018 – Today, following a nation-wide executive search, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) Mayor Don Scott and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the newly-formed Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation (WBEDC), Gregg Saretsky, jointly announced the appointment of the WBEDC’s inaugural President & CEO, Mr. Kevin Weidlich. Kevin will assume the role on January 7, 2019, and will be moving his family from Edmonton to Fort McMurray to take on the full-time, permanent role.

Kevin will be bringing over 30 years of leadership experience to the role, ranging from international market access strategies for Alberta-based businesses to major organizational transformations to re-branding strategies for corporations and communities.

“This is exciting news for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo,” said Mayor Don Scott. “RMWB Council committed to getting the WBEDC up and running by the end of 2018, and I am proud to say this has been achieved. We look forward to working with Kevin and his team, and I am pleased to welcome him to our region and community.”

“On behalf of our Board of Directors, I am very pleased to announce Kevin Weidlich as the inaugural CEO of the Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation,” said Board Chairman Gregg Saretsky. “Kevin brings deep experience not only in economic development, but in brand, marketing and communications, as well – all crucial elements of the strategy of our new organization. With a career of public service spanning decades, countries, and industry sectors, it was quickly clear to the entire Board that Kevin is the right guy for the job.”

“I am honoured to take on this important post,” said incoming WBEDC President & CEO Kevin Weidlich. “This region is not only the economic engine of our country, it is a wonderful place to live, work, and invest. I am excited to start working with the team and delivering on results for the residents and taxpayers of RMWB. I would also like to thank my wife and three sons for their support in this endeavor – as a family we are truly excited about the opportunity to move to the RMWB and start a new chapter of our lives in this wonderful community. There’s a great deal of work to get done, and I look forward to digging in on January 7th.”

The WBEDC was created this past year by RMWB Council, and the Board was appointed this past summer. Brad Ferguson has served as interim CEO since August 2018, and will remain as interim until Kevin assumes the CEO role on January 7th.

About Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation

Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation is a wholly-owned entity of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, governed by an independent Board of Directors, and tasked with increasing the growth, innovation, prosperity and resilience of the economy of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

LCol Kevin Weidlich CD, MBA

Kevin Weidlich’s 30-year career spans Canada’s private and public sectors, and is built on a foundation of military service.

Early in his career, Kevin joined the army reserve as an officer in The Loyal Edmonton Regiment. His military service has transitioned from part-time and full-time service over his entire 30 years in the Army reserve. Over the course of his military career, he has served on four international operations: Cyprus (United Nations), twice in Bosnia (NATO), and most recently leading Canada’s military training and assistance team in Jordan.

Applying his experience from the Canadian Armed Forces, Kevin began his civilian career in the construction business working on several iconic projects in Edmonton in the late 1980s. Following this, Kevin moved to Mexico to lead a successful international market entry strategy for an Alberta-based business.

Returning to Canada in 2004, Kevin joined a large construction firm where he held the position of project manager and later manager of business development.

In 2013, Kevin joined the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation where he held the role of Vice-President, Marketing and Communications. Over the course of his tenure with EEDC, Kevin led organizational transformation and place re-branding initiatives.

Kevin holds two degrees from the University of Alberta, Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Arts (Political Science).

Kevin is husband to Gaylene Weidlich and the father of three very active boys. Kevin plays golf poorly but enthusiastically and enjoys skiing with his family.

Wood Buffalo Economic Development announces small business recovery programming

(Fort McMurray, AB – July 12, 2018) – Small business recovery remains a priority for the Municipality as Wood Buffalo Economic Development (WBED) commits to provide continued programing and new initiatives through the Support to Small Business Program.

WBED launches three Support to Small Business Program initiatives:

  1. Keyano College Voucher Program – Eligible recipients of the Canadian Red Cross Support to Small Business Program can qualify for a $500 voucher to be used at Keyano College towards non-credit or certificate courses.
  2. Business Coaching Program – Eligible recipients of the Canadian Red Cross Support to Small Business Program can qualify for one-on-one coaching and advice from a professional Certified Management Consultant (CMC).
  3. Business Resource Centre, Group Programming – The Business Resource Centre will continue to offer free group programming in the form of workshops and seminars on topics relevant to local businesses and social profits. Events are open to the public.

Programming is made possible through grant funding provided by the Canadian Red Cross in support of WBED small business recovery efforts following the 2016 Horse River Wildfire.

More information on the Wood Buffalo Economic Development/Business Development Centre and the Support to Small Business Program can be found here: http://www.choosewoodbuffalo.ca/  

Media inquiries:

media@rmwb.ca

Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation Inaugural Board

 A powerful and influential force for the Region

(Fort McMurray, AB – July 10, 2018) – Council approved appointments to the inaugural Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation.

Gregg Saretsky, former President and Chief Executive Officer, WestJet has accepted the inaugural role of Chair of the Board.

“Mr. Saretsky’s strong leadership and innovative approach will provide a positive foundation for the important work ahead,” said Mayor Don Scott. “The calibre of Board Members that we have attracted is a testament to the diligent work of the Economic Development Task Force. We are at a defining moment in our history as a region. I am confident that an independent economic development corporation will provide the flexibility needed to encourage broad economic interest in our community.”

“I am delighted to be joining the inaugural board of the Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation as its Chair and look forward to the exciting opportunities we have ahead of us to promote the region and develop new business interests,” said Mr. Saretsky.

The Economic Development Task Force worked diligently to engage leaders from a broad spectrum of business and community interests. The new Board includes seven local members and three from across the province.

Gregg Saretsky – Chairman of the Board

  • Born and raised in Montreal, Gregg grew up in Quebec and British Columbia, graduating from UBC with a BSc in Microbiology and a MBA
  • 2010-2018 WestJet President and Chief Executive Officer
  • 2012 Alberta’s Business Person of the Year by Alberta Venture magazine
  • Top New CEO of the Year for 2013 by Canadian Business Magazine, an award bestowed on a CEO who has transformed his company within the first five years of his appointment
  • 2014 Gregg received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Concordia University
  • 2015 Recipient of the David Foster Foundation Visionary Award as Canada’s National Business Leader

Local Board members

Doug Allen – CEO Guthrie Group of Companies

Andrew Boutilier – Director of MSS at Suncor Energy

Doreen Cole – Managing Director, Syncrude Canada

Dan Fouts – Business Owner, Stony Valley Contracting Ltd.

Kristi Hines – Founder & Director – Hines Health Services Inc.

Ron Quintal – President of the Fort McKay Metis / Fort McKay Metis Group

RJ Steenstra – President & CEO Fort McMurray Airport Authority

J.D. Girado – General Manager Radisson Hotel & Suites Fort McMurray

Board members from other parts of Alberta

James Rajotte

  • Vice President Provincial & Municipal Government Rogers Communications
  • Retired Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Leduc after serving 15 years.  While MP, James served as Chair of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance and Chaired the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

Media inquiries:

media@rmwb.ca