Gateway Gazette

High River officially opens for business with new Manager of Economic Development

HIGH RIVER, AB: The Town of High River is pleased to announce that Shawna Stonehouse has been hired to lead the new economic development office as part of a project aimed at enhancing the local economy.

Originally from Red Deer, Stonehouse moves home to Alberta to begin her new position on Feb. 8 and brings a bachelor of commerce from the University of Alberta, master of science in planning  from the University  of Guelph and over 20 years of economic and business development experience from Ontario and overseas.

“The goal of this project and bringing Shawna onboard is to generate economic success throughout the community,” said Mayor Craig Snodgrass. “She will be working closely with council appointed groups such as the mayor’s task force to achieve both quick successes and demonstrate long term value to both the organization and the community.”

Stonehouse has spent the past few years working with small and rural communities to diversify their economy and downtowns, all while building their internal capacity to carry on development on their own.  She has also worked closely with the Town of Goderich after their 2012 tornado devastated their community and business base.

The new position will be responsible for planning, organizing, directing and coordinating the activities of a comprehensive economic development strategy and related initiatives that will attract, build and retain investment and business opportunities in High River.

“During the interview process, I spent two days in High River speaking with people and businesses and assessing the Town through an economic development lens.  My assessment is that High River has ‘great bones’, but needs some flesh on them,” said Stonehouse. “Few small towns still have the anchors downtown that High River does like the banks, grocery and other services. There is also a diversified economic base to work with and a council that is committed to supporting business development.”

Stonehouse has a diverse background and is a proven results-oriented professional who has served on the development and training teams within the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ economic development division. She also brings international experience to High River; from 2003 to 2008, she worked on economic and community regeneration projects across London for the Mayor of London’s office.  In Waterloo, Greenwich and Tottenham, Stonehouse worked with local stakeholders to develop bottom-up solutions to varying economic development challenges. She also founded Investment Focus Ltd. in Hong Kong in 1992 and provided governments in Southeast Asia and India with conferences and seminars focusing on foreign investment.

Councillor and member of the Mayor’s Economic Development Task Force, Peter Loran said, “We look forward to Shawna’s arrival and hope that the businesses of High River will embrace her energy and ideas and work with her towards a vibrant future.”

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