Every community has them – business owners, residents, elected officials – friends who like to get together over a cup of coffee and talk about the things they’d like to do if they only had the time. “If we just had this,” or “If we only did that,” or “If we could get,” … and so it goes.
The beauty is that instead of wondering “what if”, one day a group of community leaders said “Let’s do it!”. And the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development began.
This “think tank” was formed late in 2001 to coordinate the economic initiatives by the four major public players in our community. The Institute is made up of members that include the Olds Agricultural Society, the Olds & District Chamber of Commerce, Olds College, and the Town of Olds. Each of these organizations contributed people and money to seed the Institute. The Board held public input workshops early on in its establishment, which helped establish priorities, and helped the volunteers focus their objectives on a strong base of public support.
With the Honourable Shirley McClellan as keynote speaker, a workshop held in March 2003 involved the community in determining what the Institute needed to focus on to achieve its vision, mission, and objectives. This process was followed up with a second workshop with Mr. Ken Chapman, and the third was focused on technology and how our community planned to engage technology in the future.
From this consultative and collaborative process, the umbrella mission statement for the Olds Institute became: “We are the Small and Medium Size Business Capital of Rural Alberta”.
The Institute bases every objective on the philosophy that economic development should be driven by the community. As the community comes together in numerous ways to review what is happening and decide what type of community they want, they will direct Town Council as to what needs to happen to make it so.
We’ve come a long way since that first cup of coffee all those years ago.