Former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Doug Griffiths is the new CEO of Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, the board of directors announced Oct. 10.
The chamber says in a post on X, formerly Twitter, the appointed CEO has what it takes to do the job.
“(Griffiths) is a community builder at heart. It’s his passion, which makes him a great fit for the chamber. We’re excited for Doug to lead us into a phase of growth,” reads the post.
The political background gives Griffiths the advantage of knowing the process of his new job.
“I understand the processes of the legislature, how caucuses work, how the provincial government works, that by extension that works very well at the federal level too, because it’s same political system,” Griffiths told Postmedia Monday. “The provincial stuff are valuable, and I’ve worked with municipalities for 25 years.”
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While there are a lot of long-term plans on the agenda, Griffiths says innovation is the key, especially when it comes to responding to today’s business world.
The agenda includes budgets from all three levels of government, increasing workforce numbers in Edmonton and housing, says Griffiths.
“Immigration directly impacts our labour force and we need labour, and then when we get labour, then we need housing,” said Griffiths. “And as much as we get housing, we also need to decide where it’s going to be, so we’re interested in continuing to get people located in the downtown core to live, because the downtown core is pretty critical to the success of the entire city.”
When it comes to innovation, Griffiths says collecting data about resources and workforce numbers is critical.
“Innovation is going to be the most important part. We need more robust data collection information about who the members are? Why they’re members? What kind of education they’re looking for? And what source of resources can we provide to the business community to make sure that we’re successful going forward,” said Griffiths.
Step forward for Edmonton’s economic development: EDBA
The Edmonton Downtown Business Association says Griffiths brings with him two essential pieces: community economic development and government affairs.
“Doug brings with him an extensive background in community economic development and government affairs, which are two essential pieces of the Chamber’s role in our business community and in Edmonton’s economic future,” Puneeta McBryan, executive director of EDBA, said in a statement to Postmedia.
McBryan notes that under the new leadership, business in the Edmonton now have a strong voice, as the economy grows.
“I’ve met with him already, and it’s clear that the success of Edmonton’s downtown will be a priority for the Chamber under his leadership,” McBryan said.
“I believe we’ll now start to see more leadership and impact from the Chamber to ensure that Edmonton and area businesses have a strong voice and are well-positioned for prosperity as our city and economy grows.
Meanwhile, Tod Janes, chair of Edmonton’s Business Improvement Association council told Postmedia he’s thrilled to work with the new leader on behalf of the over 5,000 independent businesses within Edmonton’s 13 BIAs.
“I look forward to working with the Chamber of shared issues that impact businesses within Edmonton,” said Janes.
Chetan Dave, professor of Economics at the University of Alberta, is also optimistic, as Griffiths has a “record of well-thought out, reasonable decision making in government.
“He will bring a wealth of experience to the role with sensitivity for both the members of the chamber and those who the chamber liaise with,” Dave said.
It’s a step forward for Edmonton’s economic development, he adds.
“It important for Edmonton to have someone such as Doug in that role as the local economy diversifies into modern growth sectors.”
Since 2014, Griffiths has worked as the president of 13 Ways Inc., a consulting company that works with municipal, provincial and national governments, chambers of commerce and regional economic development organization.
Griffiths served Albertans as an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 2002-2015, holding at one time the position of Minister of Municipal affairs and Minister of Service Alberta.
He succeeds Haydar Al Dahhan, who served as Interim president and CEO for the past eight months after the chamber’s board announced Jeffery Sundquist is no longer the president on Feb, 2, 2023. Haydar remains the Chair of the Chamber’s board of directors.