By Kalinowski, Tim on November 5, 2019.
Team Lethbridge will be heading to Edmonton today for its sixth bi-annual charm offensive to meet with MLAs and ministers on both sides of the government.
The 55-member team, representing 22 different local organizations, will spend three days at the legislature.
“It’s really about elevating the awareness of Lethbridge, and making sure Lethbridge is on the provincial radar,” says Trevor Lewington, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge. “We don’t go with a specific ask. It’s not about having your hand out. The province, clearly, if you paid attention to the budget last week, there is some fairly consistent themes there. This is about building relationships.”
Bridget Mearns, executive officer of BILD Lethbridge, has been on five previous Team Lethbridge trips to Edmonton. She says the effort benefits relationships between local organizations as much as it creates bridges with the provincial government.
“For me, one of the most beneficial things that carries from one to the next is the networking we do as members of Team Lethbridge,” she says. “It’s clear every member here is passionate about what they do for Lethbridge and in Lethbridge. We want to bring those people together in the same room, on the same mission, on the same bus going to share the message of how wonderful we (as a city) are.”
Mike Warkentin, chief operating officer of Exhibition Park, will be on his first Team Lethbridge mission when he boards the buses early today. He was keen to bring an optimistic message to Edmonton with him.
“The budget came out last week, and there are wins and losses in there for Lethbridge,” he says. “But the ability for this team to go to Edmonton and have an audience with both the Opposition and Government is a tremendous opportunity to really put us on the map, and to showcase the strengths that exist in southern Alberta that really differentiate ourselves from the other major centres in the province. Lethbridge is poised for huge opportunity. The opportunity to spotlight that over the next week is a significant opportunity for us.”
For Chris Smeaton, superintendent of schools for Holy Spirit Catholic School Division, this Team Lethbridge mission will probably be his last as he gets set to retire next year. He is proud of what previous Team Lethbridge versions have accomplished, and if he has any wisdom to impart from his previous five journeys up the road to Edmonton it would be to stay focused.
“You make sure you take a look at the government mandate, and what their goals are, and then you take a look at an overarching goal or key message,” he says. “Then you just stick to it. You make sure all the organizations are being pretty clear on what those key messages are. That’s the beauty of Team Lethbridge. We’re coming in there with a sole focus of supporting Lethbridge as a whole.”
Cyndi Vos, executive officer with the Lethbridge and District Chamber of Commerce, says with a new government in Edmonton this Team Lethbridge mission will be an important step in setting a good first tone and making a good first impression.
“I think there is an opportunity to really work with this government,” she says. “They are new. We’ve got this new budget. We need to see what we’ve got, and how we can work within this budget.”
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