As we move through May and see temperatures regularly climb into the “teens”, we can confidently say summer is almost upon us. That also means conference season is coming to a close. Before that happened, I had the chance to attend the “Economic Developers Association of Manitoba” (EDAM) Spring Forum.
Here are some of the lessons and learnings I took from my time in Winnipeg.
First and foremost, I want to give our host city a hearty shout out. I had never previously spent any amount of time in Manitoba’s capital, and I left with a very positive impression. From the stunning Legislature Building and bustling Forks, to the growing brewery and food scene, the city is a vibrant cluster of ideation and collaboration. All of this is in full display at the North Forge fabrication lab, an entirely volunteer-run home to many creators and inventors in the Winnipeg area. Don’t let the volunteer status mislead you – North Forge is full of high-tech machines and gadgets that any member can use to transform concept into reality.
The Economic Developers’ Association of Manitoba is a growing and adaptive organization.
The province now has a mandate to focus on economic development, and for individual communities to see themselves as part of the region as a whole. Manitoba has asked regional agencies to specifically focus on economic development in rural areas, the far northern and southern sections of the province, and the Metro Winnipeg area. I saw many economic developers, young and old, helping each other out – you could really see the impact of the Manitoba government’s coordinated strategic efforts.
It was a real pleasure to see the conference being organized by a dedicated team of volunteers, and to meet so many fellow EDOs focussed on continual education. Everybody I spoke to was open to, and excited about, new ideas and platforms to help them in their roles.
The EDAM is a tight-knit and collaborative community of developers. Wherever I looked, I saw professionals sharing stories and lessons learned from a range of different perspectives. There was a wealth of experience and wisdom being imparted by senior officials on the new wave of economic development officers.
Also, let it be known – the EDAM knows how to put on one heck of a hospitality suite!
While at the conference, we all took some time to learn about the new “Community Edge Certification Program” (CED). The CED is a great new program put on by the dedicated folks at EDAM that uses comprehensive modules to teach economic development officers to learn about many different aspects of the position. These modules focus on avenues like strategic planning, community marketing, project management, land use planning, and many others.
The CED is available to any EDO interested and willing to take part in the program. Additionally, city councillors are also invited to take part in the programs in a combined effort to improve their communities from every angle and perspective possible.
It’s truly a great show of teamwork and collaboration for the greater good.
Since you’re reading the Townfolio blog, you’ll already know just how passionate we are about the usage of data at the government and economic policy level. So you can imagine how excited we were to see a representative from Statistics Canada taking the stage at EDAM to provide a session on the importance of data for economic developers. There are many in the industry who may view data as an intimidating facet of economic development (trust us – you’re not alone, and we understand!), but the truth is that data is an extremely valuable asset and a powerful tool when wielded properly.
As with anything, the more time you spend with the data available to your community, the better you will get at understanding and applying it in practical strategies for your community’s advantage.
While on the topic of data, Winnipeg has created a new initiative called Mypeg.ca to help track and communicate the progress of numerous and varied indicators. Mypeg.ca takes available data and couples it with the United Nations’ sustainability goals to create an interactive dashboard to “Track Progress, Inspiring Action.” The dashboard takes historical and real-time data and benchmarks it towards many indicators, including health, housing stats, life expectancy, public transit, graduation rate and many more. With Mypeg.ca, citizens and city employees alike can view how much progress is being made on each indicator and use it to motivate continued inspired action towards improving Winnipeg.
So there you have it! That’s a slice of what I learned during my time at EDAM. If you were there, I hope you found the conference as informative as I did, and I hope we had the chance to say hello. If you couldn’t make it, then I hope this article was able to share some new items with you. If you’re interested in learning more about Townfolio and our data sciences as a service, you can reach out to me through this link for a one-on-one demonstration of our platform.
Thanks again to the fine folk at EDAM and the wonderful people of Winnipeg. It was a great first impression, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!