Exciting times ahead - there is change in the air. After 10 months of isolation, lockdowns and stay at home orders most of us remain hopeful that the worst is now behind us as the vaccine for the COVID-19 virus becomes more readily available. Who could have imagined in January 2020 that our lives and our communities would be turned upside down and by a pandemic of all things?
No doubt the impact of the pandemic has had a profound change in all of us and how we will choose to move forward into the future. It is likely that the new ways of work implemented as a result of the pandemic will continue to remain an important part of our work and personal life moving forward. Virtual meetings, working from home and online shopping are trends not likely to disappear as we re-emerge. While it remains to be seen how these trends and others will continue to impact our communities, downtowns and businesses; as economic development professional we will continue to look for the opportunities to integrate these changes into our way of work and positively impact our communities.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, the role of economic development has continued to be imperative to the health of our communities. It is you and I that have provided support and reassurance to our businesses through incredibly difficult times and introduced new local programming and initiatives in response. It is evident that the importance of our profession will continue to be imperative as Ontario reopens, rebuilds and businesses and the community reengage with one another.
Collectively, the EDCO membership is over 1100 voices strong and made up of individuals as diverse in their views as in their areas of focus. My personal involvement with EDCO as a member that has participated in professional development, conferences and volunteered on various committees and on the EDCO board has led to rewarding opportunities, collaborations and lasting friendships. I encourage each and every one of you to get involved, network and share. EDCO provides an incredible resource of information and resources.
EDCO continues to look forward and adapt to the new environment. We have chosen to deliver the 2021 EDCO Conference in a virtual and convenient six week format to provide our members with the flexibility they need at this time. EDCO is thankful to all of our sponsors that continue to support the conference and other key programming. In 2021, EDCO will be launching three new professional development opportunities for our members – stay tuned.
We continue to find meaningful ways for members to interact with one another and share best practices. Our members are the heartbeat of this organization and EDCO would not be where it is today without each and every one of you. We are fortunate to have an engaged and active membership and our membership numbers remain strong heading into 2021. We thank each and every one of you for your continued support.
Looking forward the EDCO Board remains focused on the strategic priorities that were adopted in 2019 with work continuing in the area of membership and outreach. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, EDCO has benefitted from strong partnerships with organizations such as TIAO, OBIAA, EDAC and IEDC. We are so very grateful for our partners including the various provincial and federal ministries that actively engage with us.
As economic development professionals, we are currently embarking on the most important work we have ever done – rebuilding our communities after the pandemic. All of us play an important role in supporting our communities as they navigate the many challenges they are facing. What is reassuring though, is knowing the EDCO network has the tools knowledge and support to help you along the way. Networking and sharing has always been important and well done by the EDCO membership and this is the time to continue those connections.
As your 2021 President, I look forward to connecting with our members and stakeholders and ensuring EDCO is providing you with the support, tools and resources you need to be the Superstar of your community.
Lidy Romanuk, B.A., EcD
President, Economic Developers Council of Ontario