I’m really looking forward to exploring opportunities to enhance communication and engagement between the TNRD and residents of the region.
I mentioned earlier that I had put forward a motion to form an ad hoc committee to come up with recommendations to the board on that topic, but that it was, instead, referred for discussion at an upcoming strategic planning session.
Well, that two-day session has been held and I’m very excited about what happened. Staff and board members had a great facilitated discussion about it that went on for three hours.
It’s amazing what happens when you get 40 people in a room to brainstorm about something. We talked about both internal and external communications, the differences between communications and engagement, the tools we could use, and more.
I think there was majority agreement that regional government suffers from lack of awareness of what it does, and that we can’t do our jobs as well as we’d like to because of that. Therefore, examining ways to improve communication and interaction between taxpayers and the TNRD is worth doing.
Another major topic for discussion at the strat-plan meeting was economic development. As chair of the RD’s economic development committee, I was keenly interested in that, too.
One interesting point of discussion was whether rural areas are limited in economic development opportunities because of small populations and the fact that many rural residents commute to larger centres for work.
We brainstormed about potential job creators in rural areas such as home-based businesses and alternative energy providers, as well as the infrastructure that’s needed to support such enterprises.
An obvious one is tourism — Area P has a healthy tourism-related industry and I’ll expand on that in another post.
In the meantime, a report of our strategic planning sessions will be put together by the facilitator and I’ll be particularly interested in the summary and next-steps aspects of the communication-engagement component.