Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership attains new recognition as Ontario’s second internationally Accredited Economic Development Office.
“We should all be proud of this recognition because it will bring value to the Sarnia-Lambton area through increased exposure. Our strategic border location is often compared to hundreds of other locations when businesses are evaluating where to expand or locate, and accreditation with an international economic development agency makes an important difference in the process.” stated Alex Palimaka, Chair of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership Board.
With only 65 economic development offices in North America attaining the International Economic Development Council’s accreditation standard, investors seeking locations through the IEDC website will see Sarnia-Lambton amongst this elite list of top economic development offices added Palimaka.
An extensive evaluation of programs and processes was part of the assessment. First, the IEDC made sure we were following a comprehensive list of economic development best practices – working from an economic development strategic plan, following an investment attraction strategy, supporting existing businesses, tracking interactions with business leads, financial documents and communicating with stakeholders through an annual activity report and newsletters.
“These are all the things that a full functioning economic development office should be producing, and we have been working very hard to implement and follow these best practices.” Partnerships are also key, said Stephen Thompson, CEO of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership. In fact, an intern from Lambton College helped collect and upload the documents required for this assessment.
After review by a committee of international economic development professionals, Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership was invited to host a 3-day on-site evaluation. “Although much like an audit, that on-site review was what we were really looking forward to as a team”, said Thompson. Two veteran economic development professionals volunteered their time to travel to the Sarnia-Lambton area on behalf of the International Economic Development Council’s accreditation committee. They met with our economic development officers, board members, municipal and county officials and business stakeholders. While aspects of the process could have been daunting, it was a fantastic opportunity to get honest feedback from both the evaluators as well as the international committee they represent.
Following the three-day assessment, the evaluators returned to their home locations in the prairies and the east coast and prepared a report for consideration of the International Economic Development Council including evaluations of our strategic plan, marketing materials, stakeholder feedback, community support, budget and organizational effectiveness.
Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership was commended by the evaluation team that stated “The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership has submitted a very comprehensive and complete application. The site visit served to strengthen the initial perception of excellence. The organization meets very high standards for administration and governance, community and partner engagement, implementation of core programming and reporting of outcomes.” Jeff Finkle, International Economic Development Council President and CEO said, “The Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership displays the professionalism, commitment, and technical expertise that is deserving of this honor.”
Thompson further expressed that the accreditation and acknowledgement from IEDC is something the entire Sarnia-Lambton area can be proud of. Economic development truly is a team sport – success requires collaboration with business, government, planners, engineers, and the broader community.