Hello economic development community – Reflections on EDAC Year 1

Students and instructor at the EDAC Year 1 program

A few weeks back I completed the EDAC Year 1 course at the University of Waterloo. I can’t begin to describe how insightful the experience was – actually perhaps Professor of Economics and TED speaker Larry Smith’s word of the week “DYNAMIC” is the perfect description.

EDAC and the University of Waterloo put forward a great program filled with ED tools and concepts, on your feet economic development exercises, and networking sessions. The program began with a clear understanding of what it means to be an economic development professional. As a person who likes to tout that his head fits all hats, it was great to hear from the speakers and organizers that our role as ED professionals is to support all facets of community development (from business development to cultivating creative communities through people and social enterprises).  Moving on throughout the week, we were introduced to analytic techniques (thank you Manny!), community marketing strategies, evaluation techniques and models for community economic development, with each session adding to an ever growing toolbox.

Before you could blink it was Thursday and the group was released to conduct small group field projects. I had the pleasure of being accompanied by four amazing individuals (shout-outs to Lindsey “from the Soo” Ackland, Kim Ball from lovely Bracebridge, Fort Erie’s Caralee Grummett, and Region of Durham’s Nancy Rutherford) as we conducted an impromptu tour of the recently shutdown Schneider’s Plant in Kitchener. Our assignment had us prepare a vision for the redevelopment of this historic employment site that was situated within one of Kitchener’s dedicated intensification zones. After a few brainstorming sessions around the table, a PowerPoint scramble, and a last minute practice we were ready to present.

All in all, the week long program was one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. For those considering a profession in economic development, I highly recommend participating in the EDAC Year 1 program. It is a great way to expand your professional toolkit, build community and establish a network of colleagues that you can turn to for experiences and knowledge. I’m already counting down the months to Year 2!

P.S. My colleague Austin Hracs will be attending Year 2 at the end of May. Be sure to pick his brain around age-friendly community strategies!