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City has new leader for economic development

Wendy Dupley says millennials will like Maple Ridge
Economic development director Wendy Dupley. (Phil Melnychuk – THE NEWS)

The plans and long-term goals have all been settled, now the new economic development director of Maple Ridge just has to leverage those advantages and keep growing the city’s economy.

Wendy Dupley has been in her office since the new year and says the city’s commitment to developing within the urban boundary, density and mixed-use development makes her job easier, noting in previous assignments, that wasn’t the case.

As director, it’s her task to entice companies here to provide good paying jobs, while at the same time, improving the tax base of the city.

That takes time and persistence and work but it’s also a lot of fun.

“I always say I’m going to have the best job in the building for sure,” she said Tuesday.

Dupley has a raft of experience in the field and, this September, moves from her current position as vice-president, to president of the Economic Developers Association of Canada.

She arrives in Maple Ridge after serving five years as excutive-director for economic development with the City of Abbotsford. Before that, she was executive-director for the Economic Development Alliance of Southeast Alberta, based in Medicine Hat. And before landing in Canada, originally from the U.K., Dupley was regional manager for the Australian immigration department in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve always moved for career opportunities. I need to feel that I can make a difference,” she said Tuesday. Dupley replaces Lino Siracusa who a year ago, moved to the City of North Vancouver to manage the new tourism developments focused on the shipyards and waterfront in North Van.

Dupley said that economic development is about bringing together the public and private sectors. She’s also staff liaison to Maple Ridge’s economic development committee composed of community business leaders.

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Having just settled into her office next to city hall, Dupley sees lots of opportunity for Maple Ridge, adding that what this city offers in lifestyle, with its abundance of nature, is second to none. That’s what millennials are looking for, she adds.

“We have amazing parks and recreation facilities here. It’s so well situated in all those aspects.”

She said Maple Ridge needs to continue to grow and adds that council is an enthusiastic supporter of that. “I think we’ll have a lot of fun working togehter.”

That growth all has to fit within limit amounts of land for economic development but that’s a common challenge throughout Metro Vancouver, she said.

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Industrial growth and the need for affordable housing must all be balanced, and finding that balance must be dictated by what makes good economic sense.

Dupley noted that when companies are looking to relocate or expand, they do most of their background research online and arrive on site fully prepared.

But Maple Ridge already has a good online presence through its open government portal and website. One enhancement that is planned will be e newsletters that appear in info-graphic format, she added.

“I want to put this community on the map,” for both tourism and business, Dupley said.

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