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Mashup Lab at the EDA Xperience 2024 Leaders’ Summit & Conference

In April I had the privilege to speak at the annual Leaders Summit & Conference, hosted by Economic Developers Alberta in Kananaskis Village, to share some of the biggest learnings and insights from our work over the past 10 years with 400+ economic development colleagues from every part of the Province of Alberta. Not only was this one of the most well organized and executed conferences that I’ve been to (HUGE congrats to LeAnn and the whole EDA Team that helped pull off an amazing experience!), I left inspired and rejuvenated, and came back home to the East Coast with several big take-aways.

Here are just a few. . .

The importance of celebrating the people, the work, and the profession of economic development: Sometimes the role of economic development can be a thankless job; many times the biggest impact of our work can be overlooked, under appreciated, and is often hard to measure. EDA took the opportunity to have not just one, but TWO evenings of awards celebrating both the projects and the people that are having a huge impact in their communities. The Community Awards of Excellence and the EDA 50th Anniversary President’s Recognition Dinner were both really well done, striking a beautiful balance between recognition and celebration while avoiding the typical 4-hour-award-show feel that seems to just drag on.

We’re more similar than we are different: Over the past year I’ve had the privilege of participating in conferences across both Canada and the US; it is remarkable to me how similar the conversations are and the themes that emerge from the discussion. I believe there is a lot more we can learn from each other by sharing our stories and our experiences more broadly.

As much as we’re wrestling with many of the some issues, rural communities can be facing very different challenges: Not all rural places are facing the same challenges. Or perhaps more accurately, not all rural places are dealing with challenges in the same order on their list of priorities. While the most pressing issue in some communities is workforce shortage to support local business and industry, others are dealing with the ripple-effects of explosive growth and development in their community.

There is a MASSIVE pool in untapped potential sitting in rural places: Even more than I thought. The dozens of conversations I had with folks doing amazing work in rural places throughout the entire Province left me even more convinced that there is a TON of untapped entrepreneurial & innovative talent ’sitting on the sidelines’, especially in rural places. I’m excited to put the learnings and expertises of Mashup Lab to work to help unleash the full potential of those rural communities.

The mountains are magical: I grew up by the ocean and live close to the water today, so breathing the salt air and feeling the power of the ocean is a special thing for me. But there isn’t quite anything like standing in the foothills of the Rockies and soaking in the majesty and grander of a vast mountain range that just seems to go on forever. I believe everyone should get to experience that feeling at least once in their lives; it gives you a deep appreciation for the corner of the world we get to call home and the importance of the work we do unleash the potential of these amazing places.

A HUGE THANKS once again to Leann and the EDA Team for the invitation to be a part of this amazing experience!

Andrew Button
Founder & CEO
Mashup Lab Limited

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