“My biggest takeaway watching Airdrie’s growth is that while many things have changed, just as many have stayed the same”
Q&A with Airdrie Economic Development new team leader Sara Chamberlain
Sara is known by many in the community, having served 12 years with the City of Airdrie as an economic development officer. She brings to this new role 20 years of experience in economic development and communications.
During her time with the City, Sara has managed numerous successful projects including Airdrie’s economic strategy, the SMARTstart entrepreneurial training program and award-winning communications initiatives. She has developed positive relationships with many community organizations and business owners.
Q. You’ve been a part of the ED team for 12 years now. What is your biggest takeaway from watching Airdrie grow?
A. My biggest takeaway watching Airdrie’s growth is that while many things have changed, just as many have stayed the same. What’s the same is the sense of support and camaraderie amongst Airdrie businesses, our small-town feel and our community’s desire to welcome new people, events and businesses to our city. Ten years ago and now, I hear this same statement said by my co-workers, business clients and neighbours: “I just love Airdrie.”
Q. What is the biggest challenge facing small business in our community?
A. The biggest challenge facing small business in our community is similar to what communities across Alberta are experiencing: it’s a tough economy and the cost of doing business continues to rise. The reality is consumers are spending less and that has a direct impact on businesses’ bottom line. This is why it’s so important the residents consider Airdrie first when they are spending their hard-earned money.
Q. What is your No. 1 piece of advice for any business looking to move to Airdrie?
A. Get involved in the community! Time and time again, I have seen how businesses do better when they support one another, and that residents will support businesses that are involved in the community. Becoming connected and being interested and invested in Airdrie is a solid strategy for any business.
Q. Where does Airdrie rank with other municipalities in attracting economic growth?
A. Many people don’t realize Airdrie is now Alberta’s fifth-largest city (not including Calgary and Edmonton). And by 2030, it’s likely we will be second on that list, just behind Red Deer. So it’s fair to say we’ve done very well in attracting economic growth.
Q. What are your priorities as a department in 2020 and in the next five years?
A. Our team plays a key role in implementing Airdrie’s Economic Strategy 2018-2028. Our priorities include the revitalization of downtown, increasing the amount of non-residential land available for development, attracting new business and improving customer service. This is in addition to our everyday work of helping entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. We’re excited to be working on a mentorship program that will launch in 2021.
Q. Describe your perfect “Airdrie day.”
A. My perfect weekend starts with making a latte using Rosso espresso beans available at Sorso. If it’s warm, I’ll be heading for a walk on the pathway along Nose Creek to Airdrie Public Library to pick up the novel my book club is reading. I’ll stop on my way home to grab a few groceries, feeling fortunate I live walking distance from a grocery story. The afternoon will inevitably include driving one of my sons to basketball practice, parkour at Airdrie Edge or to Genesis Place for skating or swimming. The evening would include dinner out. (There’s no way I could choose just one favourite eatery in Airdrie.) If there’s a new movie out, you will find my family at the Roxy Theatre; otherwise we’d be hanging out and playing a board game with family or neighbours.