A conversation with Delia Reiche: Community building through economic development
As a lifelong entrepreneur and former deputy mayor, Delia Reiche has plenty of experience in the world of economic development. That experience will now be critical not only in her new role as the development liaison for Brant County, but also as president of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario – Canada’s largest provincial professional economic development association.
Embracing the Essential Tool for Building Communities
Reiche recently sat down with Municipal World CEO Susan Gardner to discuss her journey through the field of economic development and why it is essential for municipalities.
“We help economic developers with training. We do foreign direct investment with municipalities, assist members in any sort of economic development growth they require,” she said. “Economic development is not just manufacturing, it’s not just tourism, it’s everything. There is now a different shift, a different mindset, around trying to learn what economic development is and how we can collaborate more.”
Reiche has spent years building up her personal economic development portfolio. She participated in the University of Waterloo’s Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC) economic development course and then proceeded to get her economic development fellowship some two years ago.
She also worked in St. Thomas for the Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs. Later, she entered the private sector for a pharmaceutical company where her experience grew into some international economic development.
“The amount of relationship building and connection that is built in this industry is incredible,” she said. “This is an industry that is forged on relationships, understanding what people’s strengths are, and how to work together and collaborate is essential.”
Community Growth Linked to Economic Development
Reiche said, in her opinion, economic development is the root to any growth in a community.
There are many citizens leaving the larger cities to come to the rural areas. Once there, they have an expectation they will have the same amenities. However, the budgets – and often the population base – don’t allow that to happen.
That, Reiche explains, is why economic development is not only essential, but often completely misunderstood.
“It’s like a friend of mine said, just because people travel they think they understand tourism. Just because you see a factory go up … They don’t look at the steps that were necessary behind the scenes,” she said. “The ice cream shop down the street, the small microbreweries, the manufacturing automotive plants, the advanced manufacturing plants, the relationships with tourism and our wonderful Great Lakes, that’s economic development.” MW
✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in the article: The three ages of economic development. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.
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