Stuart McFadden, who for two years has been called the acting director of economic development for the municipality, is getting a shorter title.
He’s now the director of economic development.
McFadden, a former Wallaceburg business owner who joined the municipal economic development office in 2007, said he had to interview for the position.
“It was posted. I prepared myself and was thankful for the opportunity to interview,” he said.
John Norton, general manager of community development for Chatham-Kent, praised McFadden’s efforts working on behalf of the municipality.
“I believe Stuart has the combination of experience, community knowledge and enthusiasm to help Chatham-Kent reach its potential as a leading community not only in Southwestern Ontario but the province as well,” said Norton in a media release.
McFadden said very little will change due to his different title.
“The reality is we’ve been focused on entrepreneurs, youth, and making sure the support system is in place for small businesses. Nothing is going to change,” he said. “It’s important to knock on doors with companies to find out what keeps them up at night and work to help them out. We just need the right people in the right place doing the right things.”
McFadden added people outside the municipality need to know “we’re open for business.”
One area that could change dramatically, especially with the defeat of incumbent Mayor Randy Hope and the retirement of former director of economic development Michael Burton, is travelling around the world in hopes of securing new business. McFadden said it would be prudent to trust such globe trotting to higher levels of government.
“We’re always open if it requires it,” he said of making overseas economic development trips. “We’re going to be working really closely with the federal and provincial governments. They have many people overseas working to find companies to invest in Canada and Ontario. My goal is to make sure they are aware where Chatham-Kent is and that it is top of mind. We’re open for business and are business friendly.
“We’ll work with our colleagues (in the federal and provincial governments). If they have a file that is interesting, then we’ll look at it.”
Working with other groups, organizations, business and individuals is important for economic development, McFadden said. He pointed to the recent celebrations at Rumelca in Wallaceburg over the completion of a 22,000-square-foot, $5.5-million expansion.
“In terms of the history of that file, the president of the company called the local chamber of commerce in Wallaceburg looking for information. We started a conversation with them in 2007. We were able to get a deal done (in 2010) and convince them Wallaceburg was the place for them to do business,” he said. “That deal doesn’t happen without the Wallaceburg Chamber of Commerce forwarding that lead. If we continue to work collectively, we’ll all win.”
When McFadden came to the municipality, Hope was mayor. Darrin Canniff takes over later this month, and McFadden anticipates a good working relationship.
“I’m looking forward to working with Mayor-Elect Canniff. He seems very supportive. I’ve known Darrin for a long time,” he said. “I worked with Mayor Hope for 11 years, very closely. I have nothing but good things to say about that relationship.”