Two takeaways from the 2014 EDAC Conference

By Jason Dias

The MDB team with Jon Montgomery

I recently joined Trudy, Brock, Paul, and Sarah from the MDB Insight team at the 2014 EDAC Conference. It was great to reconnect with the economic development community and hear about successes from coast to coast. Each session provided the economic development community with takeaways that will surely benefit communities across the country.

Two sessions that I found particularly insightful were Dr. Katherine Loflin’s Placemaking session and Jon Montgomery’s Innovation and Realism session.

Dr. Loflin reminded us that placemaking has been named as one of the most transformative ideas of this century. It is increasingly being recognized as critical to community success because it creates a special energy that fosters economic vitality and other outcomes. Dr. Loflin explained the idea of place assessment as a component that ties the love of places to economic growth. Her notion of narrative building is something we feel strongly about too. Storytelling is part of our Cultural Development work and we’ve built it into our new PlaceVantage tool. Capturing community narratives is a way to build a sense of place and illustrate your community’s unique identity.

Jon Montgomery, Olympic Gold Medalist and Host of the Amazing Race Canada, reminded us all that while we must be realistic about the things we can’t change, there are always ways in which we can optimize ourselves and our situations through creative thinking and innovation. His philosophy is that “unless you’re moving forward you’re getting left behind!” It’s a philosophy we should embrace as economic developers. Our communities need us to be creative in approaching challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities.

A big job well done to both EDAC and CEDC for putting on a fantastic conference. See you in Whitehorse next year!