The region’s new economic development officer is excited about the opportunity to bring her diverse skills to the job.
“I’ve had experience working in tourism, the industrial sector, business financing, and corporate growth with companies,” said Susan Fournier, who was hired by the Central Cariboo Economic Development Corporation and began work on March 7.
“Each segment was very enjoyable, but it’s been kind of fragmented so I was looking forward to working with a community where I would be able to bring all those skills together to provide supports.”
Williams Lake is an ideal size of a city to work with, and so far she has been impressed with how generous people are with their time and knowledge, she said.
“Lots of communities are friendly but Williams Lake is very unique in that way where people not only are friendly and give you some time, but if you ask they will give you that historical background information,” she said. “People aren’t forcing their opinions but are very open to listening when I’ve suggested some things that have worked elsewhere.”
Fournier met with city council last week and then subsequently council members have met with her in her office at city hall one-on-one.
In her role as the economic development officer, Fournier answers to the CCEDC board of directors who she said have given her three top priorities.
First on the list is a feasibility study on the potential for developing greenhouses with Atlantic Power, using its excess steam.
A second priority is the community engagement project that is already underway with UNBC that was launched earlier in the new year.
Finally the CCEDC wants to develop a three-year business plan outlining its core activities and structure, so Fournier will be tackling that as well.
Fournier is from Smith Falls, Ont., a community of similar size to Williams Lake, located about a 45-minute commute outside of Ottawa.
She has 20 years of experience working in economic development in Eastern Ontario in the Kingston, Brockville, Ottawa triangle.
She and her husband Brock have four grown children so when the job was posted for Williams Lake they saw it as an opportunity to explore another part of the country.
Brock has worked in commercial insurance and is retired.
The couple love the outdoors, she said, noting they’ve also moved here with two cats and one dog.
Her favourite seasons are winter and summer.
“We like cross country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking, although now that I’ve seen the mountains here, I have to amend hiking to walking,” she added, chuckling.