Slave Lake has a new economic development officer

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

His name is Swanson, but no, he’s not related to the sawmill family. Jason Swanson is from the ‘other’ stream of Swansons, and for the past month or so he’s been working for the Town of Slave Lake.

Swanson’s title is Manager of Communications and Economic Development. As such, he supervises the work of communications coordinator Jordan Schenkelberg; the rest of the time he’s all on his own on the ec/dev file.

“So far, so good!” says Swanson.

What that means is he’s making progress in meeting people, establishing relationships and working out how the town can collaborate in improving the general economic picture.

Asked how he sees the municipal role in economic development, Swanson makes it clear for starters one thing it isn’t:

“There needs to be a distinction between business development and economic development,” he says. Making sure businesses are profitable is not the town’s role. It’s more along the lines of “making Slave Lake an attractive place to do business.”

Toward that end, he says the town wants to “support business as best we can,” while improving the image of the town generally. There’s a strong tourism promotion aspect in there as well, not to mention labour attraction.

Working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Society are high on the Swanson agenda.
Swanson grew up in Bragg Creek, west of Calgary. He got a couple of degrees from the University of Calgary in the social sciences.

Pretty much all of Swanson’s work experience in the field of consultation/communications was in southeastern B.C. He was an independent environmental consultant for a few years – with clients ranging from B.C. Hydro to a coal company to a First Nation in the area. Then he worked exclusively for a coal mining company. Next he was the chief administrative officer for the Tobacco Plains First Nation, located in Grasmere, B.C.

Swanson says he didn’t stay long at that job, for personal reasons.

“We’re pregnant!” he says, by way of explanation. We, being him and his wife Mallory, nee Sinclair, of Slave Lake.

When the happy and long-hoped-for news finally arrived, the Swansons had to make a decision about where they wanted to live while raising their child.

Mallory is from Slave Lake; that’s where her parents live (and a lot of relatives!) and they decided it was the place they should be. So Jason resigned his job, and up they came, in August of this year.

“I started sending resumés around,” he says.

Hired by the town in September, he started his new job on Oct. 11.

As for the move to a new community, no troubles there, Swanson says.

“I’ve been coming here since 2010. It’s been a pretty easy transition.”

Jason Swanson

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