Skip to content

Transition plan proceeded nicely

The transition of economic development services from the Estevan Chamber of Commerce to the City of Estevan appears to have gone quite smoothly.
city, logo

The transition of economic development services from the Estevan Chamber of Commerce to the City of Estevan appears to have gone quite smoothly.

Manpreet Sangha, who was the economic development officer for the chamber, was the first to move over to city hall. She started working for the city a couple weeks ago as their new policy and research analyst.

City manager Amber Smale said it was a “seamless transition.”

“Not much has changed on the economic development front just yet,” Smale told the Mercury. “She's still continuing with a lot of the projects that were already planned for 2015.

Smale said one of the big tasks for Sangha will come next year, when the Conference Board of Canada is scheduled to tackle an economic forecast for the Energy City. From there, an actual strategy around economic development and policy will be completed.

It will give the community a better picture of where they will be in the next five years.

“The economic development strategy doesn't just take in economic development, it'll take in that tourism and that branding piece that we're working on,” said Smale.

Sangha echoed Smale's comment that it has been a relatively smooth shift. Both the city and the chamber were very co-operative prior to and during the transition.

“Basically, it's just a new work environment for me; it's the same role,” said Sangha.

She is currently working on a business and retention survey for the restaurant and hotel sector, a task that will occupy her time for the next few months.

“I think I will be looking for the changes to the Labour Market Opinion and the Labour Market Impact Assessment programs,” said Sangha. “I really wanted to know how this sector has been affected by it. Second would be the changes in the economy with the slowdown in the oil and gas sector.”

In previous years, Sangha has surveyed the retail sector, professional services offices and the oil and gas industry.

Once she receives the feedback about the labour market assessment, Sangha expects she might have to talk to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program representatives.

She is also working on an economic profile of Estevan, and updating documents that she completed two years ago. Sangha hopes to have additional projects for next year.

The city has also announced that Rebecca Westling, who had been the chamber's marketing and events co-ordinator, is now the destination marketing and communications consultant for the city. Her first day with the city was on August 4.

Smale said the initial plan was to have the chamber’s tourism operations switch to the city in September, but the city wanted a chance to view the operations of the visitor information centre while it's still open.

“In September, it would have been closed by then,” said Smale.

Smale said Westling's hiring wasn't part of the transition of services from the chamber to the city. The city had a vacant position, and Smale changed the job for Westling.

“It fits nicely that Becky was the one interested in it, and wants to take it on, because she'll have that background already,” said Smale.

Westling will be working out of the Visitor Information Centre until an office is found for her in City Hall.

In other jurisdictions, the visitor information centre is open year-round, Smale said, but she doesn't know if there's a need for Estevan's centre to be open all year. Estevan’s visitor centre is not winterized, either.

“It's a good time for me to figure out what's going on out there, how the building is being used, what things are missing from a work environment that it might need if it was used year-round, and just to see the complexity of the work that's going on out there, the nature of it, and whether it's a high-traffic area,” said Smale.

The City of Estevan has contracted the chamber to handle the economic development and tourism jobs since the late 1990s. But earlier this year, it was announced the portfolios would be handled in-house.