The man who has been the face of Red Deer to many investors and business people is leaving the city.
Cyril Cooper, Red Deer’s land and economic development officer since 2003 and recently also manager of Central Alberta: Access Prosperity and head of Red Deer Regional Economic Development, has accepted a position with a private consulting firm. His last day on the job is today.
Cooper has been hired as vice-president of investment attraction with Rainmaker Global Business Development, a Calgary-based company with offices around the world.
“I’m seeking a change in my career and a new direction,” he said, adding that the position with Rainmaker will allow him to expand his skills, especially with respect to private sector work.
“It’s just a natural fit for me.”
Paul Meyette, Red Deer’s planning division director, said the process of hiring a new land and economic development officer is already underway.
The deadline for applications is next Monday, with interviews expected to begin later in the week.
Central Alberta: Access Prosperity — a partnership of the city, Red Deer County, the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, Red Deer College and Central Alberta Economic Partnership that’s working to attract foreign direct investment to the region — is also seeking a new manager. That competition closes next Friday, with the selection process to proceed as quickly as possible thereafter, said Tim Creedon, the Chamber’s executive director.
“The Access Prosperity board would like to hire quickly, because the project is time-sensitive,” he said.
Creedon said the decision to find someone other than Red Deer’s new land and economic development officer to oversee Central Alberta: Access Prosperity was motivated by advice from the city, and the recognition that the position requires a full-time manager.
He added that the new land and economic development officer’s role in Red Deer Regional Economic Development — another partnership involving the city, county, Chamber and college — has yet to be determined.
Meyette and Creedon said the voids created by Cooper’s departure will be filled by other staff until replacements have been hired. But Meyette acknowledged the situation at the city has been complicated by the fact former Land and Economic Development manager Howard Thompson recently moved to the Inspections and Licensing Department. His replacement, John Sennema, does not begin work until March 5.
“There’s certainly going to be an adjustment,” said Meyette. “It will take some time for people to get familiar with everything that we’re doing on the economic development side.”
Cooper, who will continue to reside in Sylvan Lake, said his work with the city and its economic partnerships has been “a great experience. It was satisfying, he said, to see the local economic development focus broaden from business retention and expansion to include investment attraction.
“If you’re only doing business retention initiatives, then those industries grow within themselves and you don’t diversify your local economy,” he explained.
Cooper said there is now international awareness of the Red Deer region, and the area can compete against much larger cities when pursuing investment.
“I’m quite pleased with where we’re at and what we’ve done.”