‘Dragon’ visiting

Red Deer will be visited by a dragon on Sept. 10, when entrepreur, philanthropist and TV personality Brett Wilson comes to town.

Red Deer will be visited by a dragon on Sept. 10, when entrepreur, philanthropist and TV personality Brett Wilson comes to town.

Wilson, who is one of the investors on CBC’s popular Dragons’ Den program, will make two public appearances during the day. He is scheduled to talk at a breakfast organized by the Rotary Clubs of Red Deer at the Capri Centre, and then at noon will be the keynote speaker at the community kickoff of the United Way of Central Alberta’s 2009 campaign at the Red Deer Lodge.

Wilson was Alberta Venture magazine’s Business Person of the Year in 2008. He was also Calgary’s Person of the Year in 2007 and previously was named to Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Top 20 Deal Makers, and Top M&A Specialists lists.

Co-founder of and a partner in FirstEnergy Capital Corp., an investment bank that focuses on the oil and gas sector, Wilson is also managing director and president of Prairie Merchant Corp., a private merchant bank specializing in the energy, agriculture, real estate, sports and entertainment industries. He established the Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Saskatchewan, and the Wilson Centre for Domestic Abuse Studies in Calgary.

Many people would recognize him as one of the business moguls on Dragons’ Den, where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas in hopes of attracting cash and expertise from the panel of dragons.

Hillary Boisjolie, commercial banking manager with Canadian Western Bank, and Shelley Ralston, owner of Graden Systems Inc., are helping organize the Rotary breakfast.

In addition to his business success, the appeal of bringing Wilson to town is his philanthropic work, said Boisjolie. She explained that the local Rotary clubs want to encourage young business people to support the community, following in the footsteps of civic-minded entrepreneurs like Jack Donald.

Jennifer Forrest, the United Way of Central Alberta’s campaign co-manager, said Wilson’s philanthropic bent also makes him a good candidate to speak at her organization’s big event.

By working together, the Rotary clubs and the United Way are able to bring such a high-profile business person to Red Deer, said Forrest.

Last spring, the Rotary Clubs of Red Deer arranged for John Wood — a former executive with Microsoft — to speak here.

The Sept. 10 Rotary breakfast will run from 7:30 to 9 a.m., with tickets $40 a person. The United Way luncheon is scheduled to start at noon, with admission $50.

For tickets or more information about the Rotary event, call Boisjolie at 403-342-9385 or Ralston at 403-343-7334, or go online at www.clubrunner.ca/reddeer. In the case of the United Way kickoff lunch, information can be found at www.caunitedway.ca.

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