Big news from the Brooks Newell Region Economic Development Team: we have a new team member! Kourtney Hiebert has recently joined our team as our new Workforce Development Officer. Kourtney was born and raised in the Brooks Newell Region and has been an advocate and ambassador for the Region since she learned to talk. With a background in communications and marketing, along with years of experience in corporate recruiting and human resources, she will be a valuable addition to our squad. Kourtney is also the owner of Mom Life Maternity, a small retail boutique in Downtown Brooks, so she understands entrepreneurship and what it means to operate a small business.
The Workforce Development Officer is a new position that was created to help tackle the workforce crisis being experienced in our Region. Without access to skilled labour, many of the key industries in our Region suffer and are limited in terms of capacity and growth. One of the key focus areas within the Brooks Newell Region’s Economic Development Strategic Plan is to focus on Business Retention and Expansion for local businesses but this has been very difficult amidst this skilled labour crisis. It needs no emphasis that hiring and retention of full-time/permanent workers has been a continuous struggle for rural employers and it is increasingly challenging to sustain business activities without adequate staffing.
To address the issue, the Brooks Newell Region, along with partner Community Futures Entre Corp, will be funding this position to focus on:
- Workforce Attraction (promoting our Region as an amazing place to live and work and bringing in skilled labour for hard-to-fill vacancies)
- Workforce Development (helping local youth and the underemployed get the skills and training they need for the jobs available here)
- Workforce Retention (making sure employers have the tools they need to settle and retain skilled workers)
- Employer Education (connecting business owners with the most up to date practices in Human Resources and local funding/support programs)
A large part of Kourtney’s new position will be the management and implementation of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program. The Brooks Newell Region was the first community in Alberta to be designated under both the Rural Renewal and Rural Entrepreneur Stream and have been provincial leaders in the program which attracts and endorses skilled labourers to work in our community. Since launching the program in July 2022, there have been 27 regional businesses participate and 40 endorsement letters have been issued for people to fill local vacancies.
Business owners and operators in the Region are sure to benefit from Kourtney’s connection to our community, wealth of knowledge, and enthusiastic energy. Make sure to say hi if you see Kourtney out working with local businesses in the Brooks Newell Region! You can also contact her by emailing KHiebert@brooks.ca.