CED Director, Pat Barr

Did You Know... Athabasca now has an economic development officer. Pat Barr is Director, Community Economic Development.

Pat Barr, Director, Community
Economic Development, invites
interest from the community

Community economic development office open for business

Residents of the region know that Athabasca and area communities have much going for them. The challenge is knowing how best to capitalize on the strengths to stimulate economic growth.

To help facilitate the process, Athabasca now has a qualified economic development officer. Located on the lower floor of the Town of Athabasca office building, Pat Barr, Director, Community Economic Development, began her duties in September and wants everybody to know she is open for business.

“My door is always open,” says Pat enthusiastically as she invites interest from within the Town and County of Athabasca and the Village of Boyle. “I want to get the word out that I am here for individuals, municipalities, even community groups – call upon me as a resource person.”

Although attracted to the natural beauty of the region, it is Athabasca’s potential for growth that excites Pat. She welcomes the opportunity to assist with the process of economic development.

“There is so much enthusiasm in this community,” she declares. “And the fact there are three different municipalities working jointly, I see so much regional potential here between the location and the volunteers – and the enthusiasm! Enthusiasm is the driving force.”

Pat will help those interested set priorities, create a vision and develop a workable plan.

“The challenge is helping the community understand where it wants to be in the next 10 to 15 years and developing the initiatives to get there,” she explains. “It is doable, but the challenge to the community is that it requires effort.

“My focus is to help with any program they are developing. It’s really the projects and initiatives being created and implemented that are the important part of the process. That is the exciting part. It is one thing to say that this is what you want. It’s another to actually get out there and do it.”

The efforts and initiatives do not necessarily have to be broad or expansive, adds Pat.

“I enjoy seeing ideas work, and it doesn’t have to be a major plan. Every bit adds to the process. You take it off in doable chunks.”

Community encouraged to get involved

Effective communication within the community is one of the keys to successful economic development, and Pat points out a simple way every member in the community can be involved.

“We are trying to establish a network of contacts because we need to hear about any outside groups or organizations that may be looking for host towns for conferences, conventions or other events,” she says. “If you are involved in anything that has a regular event, like annual general meetings, courses, seminars, special tours, we want to hear about it. At some point they will be putting out a proposal and we need to hear about that.”

Beyond basic communication, Pat encourages residents to support local community economic development initiatives and get involved wherever possible.

“If you are invited to participate in community planning exercises, I’d hope you would take advantage of the opportunity,” she encourages. “For example, the Athabasca Regional Development Committee (ARDC) – they need more people to get involved and they are looking for long-term ideas. You can feed ideas through the ARDC, or send them to me.”

The ARDC is presently reviewing proposals for a housing needs assessment study. The committee intends to participate in the development of a housing strategy for the Town and a portion of the County, and a housing needs assessment study is the first step in that direction.

Director brings business background

Pat brings business experience to her role as Director, Community Economic Development. She has more than 20 years as a small business owner, a consultant primarily in management systems, computers and organizational. She has worked with government in two provincial central agencies – budgeting and management planning with the Government of Alberta, and the Ontario Management Board, a sub-committee of the Ontario provincial cabinet.

Pat holds a Bachelor of Mathematics degree, and she is finalizing her certification as a certified economic developer.

Contact Pat at 675-2063 via the Town office, or by e-mail at PatriciaBarr@town.athabasca.ab.ca

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