Merrickville-Wolford Council has directed staff to apply for a grant from the provincial government to hire an Economic Development Officer (EDO) for the municipality.
This decision came following a recommendation by the Economic Development Committee, which has been looking at how best to move forward on the municipality’s strategic and economic development plans.
An EDO would be the person on the ground to help businesses, liaise with the municipality’s many community groups, and look at how to attract more residents, developers and, possibly, light industry to the Municipality. “We have spent 18 months developing an economic development plan,” says CAO John Regan. “There is a lot to be implemented.”
The salary for the 2-year contract position is estimated at $50,000-$80,000, half of which would be paid for by grant money from the Rural Economic Development program, with the other half coming out of municipal coffers. Councillor Kim Weedmark stated at the council meeting that he is hesitant to create another job within the Municipality, and wondered whether it would be possible to share an EDO with another municipality to lower the costs.
Deputy Mayor Ann Barr said that, while she understands this concern, she believes that this is an excellent opportunity for the municipality to test out an EDO. “For a bargain basement price, we can try one on,” she said in the meeting.
As of right now, no decision has been made about whether or not to hire an EDO. Direction has simply been given for staff to apply for the grant, the deadline for which was at the end of September. The decision about whether to hire an EDO rests on whether they are successful in their application. “We likely won’t hear anything until January,” according to John Regan.