Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Please make the following change in your Economic Development program

The notice has only recently been posted to  the city's website and the Economic Development Corporation website hasn't been updated as of yet, still listing Nellie Cheng as the city's Economic Development Officer but as keen eyed readers of the Daily News of Friday found out, the city has a new Economic Development Officer in place.

22 year old Derek Baker comes to the position by way of the University of Northern British Columbia where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Prince George based University.

Among his skills that he brings to the position is some familiarity with grant writing which could be of use in the task ahead as the city tries to attract new industry to the battered economy.

As we also found out from Monica Lamb Yorski's profile he also plays a bit of hockey, a prospect which apparently has caught the eyes of the local hockey team the Rampage, though considering the rather onerous task at hand of rebuilding the brand of Prince Rupert one wonders if he'll have much time to dedicate to the ice.

Baker replaces the long since departed Nellie Cheng, who left rather suddenly after a short period on the job, somewhat of a curse of the job from recent times which have seen a number of people take the position on, creating a bit of a revolving door image of the job making it hard to gain any traction in the quest for a more diverse economic base for the city.

We never did learn much about what precipitated Ms.Cheng's departure, and likewise there was a bit of an information clamp down on any progress leading up to the hiring of Mr. Baker, so we'll never really know how many candidates were up for the position or the level of experience that they may or may not have had to offer up.

Nor what the search committee was crossing off their list as they assessed those applicants and what they may have contributed to the challenge ahead, before deciding on the newest hire for the office.

The city apparently changing its direction from the past, having decided this time to go with youth and enthusiasm over experience and potential contacts both here and abroad.

Hopefully, all works out this time around and Mr. Baker's stay will be of a longer duration than some of his predecessors.

Rupertites can only hope that he brings some positive results from his very weighty task at hand.

For those that may have missed the introductions, unofficial as they were, here's Monica Lamb Yorski's item from the Friday paper.

Rupert finds its new man 
By Monica Lamb-Yorski  
Staff Writer 
Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, July 9, 2010

If the future belongs to the young, there’s hope. Prince Rupert and Port Edward’s new Economic Development officer Derek Baker is 22 years old and eager to get started on the job, and find out if he can play with the Rupert Rampage.

Last year he commuted to Vanderhoof to play defence for the Omenica Ice and actually played against the Rupert team.

In fact, during an interview with the Daily News Thursday afternoon, his cell phone rang and it was someone from the Rampage letting him know there’d be a practice at the CHSS track in a couple of hours.

Baker was born in Kindersly, Sask., and had a history of moving until his family settled in Prince George a decade ago.

He recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Northern British Columbia.

 While he was going to school he did a contract with Northern Development Initiative Trust as a program coordinator.

 “I think the experience there will help me with the job here. I administered the community adjustment fund, working through 400 applications,” Baker explained.

Through his work on the fund, he commented, he learned quite a bit about successful grant writing — a skill he hopes will help the City and take off some of the burden.

Although he had never been to Prince Rupert until he came out for the job interview, Baker worked on developing a marketing brochure for Prince Rupert and six other communities.

 “I also did a transportation sector profile,” he added.

When he’s not tied to a desk he’s hoping to get out into the community to start meeting people.

He started the job on Monday and spent a couple of hours wandering around Cow Bay Thursday introducing himself to people.

“I’m anxious to hear people’s ideas about what they think needs to be done in Prince Rupert,” he said. 

When he’s not working or playing hockey, Baker loves to golf and fish, so it doesn’t look like it’ll take much convincing to let him know he’s come to the right place.

 “Everyone tells me it rains all the time here, but I really haven’t seen that yet,” he added.

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