NORTH BATTLEFORD - The City of North Battleford will be adding a Economic Development manager position in the near future.
At Monday’s council meeting, council voted to create the position, which will be funded with no increase in taxes.
City Manager Randy Patrick told council they had been looking to get the economic development position into the budget, but hadn’t been able to previously.
“We have an opportunity to do so now,” said Patrick. This position will be funded out of the $118,000 that was set aside to go to Destination Battlefords.
Destination Battlefords has only requested $40,000 in funds from the city. That leaves the other $78,000 available, and that is being utilized to hire the Economic Development position. Destination Battlefords will be allocated the other $40,000, and Patrick also indicated another $100,000, allocated for regional studies, will be moved over to the Economic Development position. Resolutions to this effect all passed at council Monday.
Patrick noted that normally they would make the funding ask for a new position during the budgeting process, which usually happens near the end of the year. But he indicated they want to get this position started now and not have to wait until next April. It is expected it will take a couple of months to fill the new Economic Development role.
Hiring an Economic Development manager is seen as a priority by the city. The city had previously had an Economic Development position, but that eventually disappeared during City Manager Jim Puffalt’s tenure. Instead, the Director of Planning and Development role was created as part of a reorganization of responsibilities at City Hall at the time.
The indication from administration is that they want to put more of a focus on economic development in the future. Patrick noted the city has had a “good run” with economic development, but one issue is that “it has slowed down over the past few years.”
“It has kind of become a ‘side of your desk’. I think in a size city like ours, we have to push to get that development in. It’s a major thing with development of the whole community for taxes, for jobs. It’s a positive to build our business in a proper way.”
The city also sees an opportunity for the Economic Development position to work alongside Destination Battlefords in terms of drawing in destination tourists.
Councillor Kent Lindgren indicated that Destination Battlefords is on board with the changes. He noted their board, the Battlefords Hotels Association and the city came together recently to look at the structure of their organization moving forward.
“These will benefit both the city and Destination Battlefords in a new way and in a new relationship,” said Lindgren. He said an important part of this was the relationship with the business community and the Hotels Association.
“This relationship between the city and the hotels is foundational for me in supporting this,” said Lindgren. “I do believe this will be in the best interests going forward for both parties.”