July 12th, 2024

SPC hears update on Team Lethbridge

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on July 2, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Team Lethbridge will again be heading to Edmonton Lethbridge to meet with politicians and government departments for three days.

The eighth Team Lethbridge mission will have 19 participating organizations from the community. The last mission in 2022 had 23 organizations.

Trevor Lewington, Chief Executive Officer of Economic Development Lethbridge, gave a rundown recently to the Governance Standing Policy committee of city council on the Team Lethbridge initiative.

Representing city council on this year’s mission will be mayor Blaine Hyggen and councillor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel.

Lewington called Team Lethbridge a community initiative.

Team Lethbridge, he stated, is not an initiative of EDL which he said merely acts as “cruise director.”

“The reason we do this is we help organize the messaging, we help correlate the messages, we help with the logistics of scheduling the meetings but this is not an Economic Development Lethbridge project” nor an EDL brochure, he said, that organization there just to do the back end work and make sure it’s successful.

The mission focuses on three advocacy streams including elected officials, political staff and bureaucracy.

In 2022, Team Lethbridge had several goals, according to a PowerPoint presentation shown to the SPC.

Those included:

• Elevate the assets, strengths & attributes of Lethbridge to provincial decision makers.

• Enhance awareness/appreciation for the value Lethbridge generates.

• Convey appreciation for investment/funding in Lethbridge and communicate the possibilities with further investment.

• Increase Lethbridge’s inclusion/participation in strategic decision making.

• Build relationships and opportunities between partners on the mission.

Over three days in 2022, the team had 19 meetings with ministers, deputy ministers and chiefs of staff as well as one meeting with an Opposition critic. It had a meeting with Prairies Economic Development Canada and two MLA receptions.

Among the outcomes of those meetings was a $1 million feasibility grant for the rural physician training program that was recently announced for the University of Lethbridge.

Key messages delivered by the last mission include that Lethbridge is a desirable and welcoming place to live and raise a family, the city is proud of its many diverse traditions, cultures and the region’s natural beauty, the city is a place where collaboration allows residents to seize opportunity and it welcomes visitors, residents and businesses open to doing things differently.

Priorities for 2024 are capital, operating and policy and other matters that can be potentially flagged.

Lewington said it’s important to make sure Lethbridge’s message transcends any specific and is there for the long term.

He said a common misconception that Team Lethbridge is governed advocacy in all things and all forms which isn’t the case.

“It is the introduction for some organizations, it’s about relationship building,” he added.

Team Lethbridge “is meant to boost smaller organizations that maybe don’t have the same access and it is also meant to reinforce messages for those organizations that have very strong relationships,” Lewington added.

He said Team Lethbridge is one component of an overall government relations strategy.

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