Wawa EDC transitions into Municipal Delivery

April 21st, 2022 was the 20th Annual General Meeting for the Economic Development Corporation of Wawa.  The EDC Board has been working hard, preparing to hibernate the corporation as its operational functions transition to an in-house department of the Municipality of Wawa that will focus on economic development and tourism.

As we look back, we would like to recognize the recent hard work and dedication of the outgoing Economic Director, Shah Mohamed and his dynamic team of Ellen Mackenzie, Kieran Klockars, Mike Reid and Alley Amos. Although their time together has been relatively short, Shah and his team tackled many unprecedented social, economic and environmental themes, issues and pandemic challenges that have faced many of us over the past several years.  Under the Economic Development Director’s guidance and engaged leadership, the EDC of Wawa has ventured deeply into community economic development, which successfully initiated and coordinated over 20 new projects within our immediate community.

These exciting projects included:

  • Collaborating with the Wawa BIA on the Digital Main Street program, which reached over 100 businesses, greatly enhancing Wawa’s digital visibility and presence to residents, clients and visitors alike for online marketing, shopping and accessibility;
  • Collaboration with Wawa BIA, Michipicoten First Nation, Municipality of Wawa, local businesses, organizations and local schools on the 2020 graduation mural on Broadway Avenue;
  • Organized important community tables to initiate discussion and best practices focused on health and wellness, arts and culture, and local food;
  • Coordinated the ShopHERE program with young and emerging entrepreneurs, which led to the highly successful online business directory called EATSHOPLIVE.CA, providing resources and invaluable digitization supports;
  • Initiating conversations around housing solutions, housing options, downtown revitalization, local trades accessibility and aging housing stocks;
  • Participation in strategizing and developing updated tourism modelling and options for optimizing Wawa’s tourism presence;
  • Supportive and productive engagements with:
    • The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail project to align Wawa with healthy community branding.
    • Jamii Esplanade and Camexicanus – “Back Road Arts Collective” providing youth and residents with rich and unique activities and arts programs.

The EDC Team was making some exciting progress on two particularly innovative projects that may continue to get some attention in the future due to positive community engagement.

  • Groundwork and much-needed renovations at the EDC office were working towards the Wawa CoLAB facilities being established, an innovative community space and resource centre for youth and entrepreneurs to access, network and find inspiration and mentorship in their desired career paths.
  • The Arts Build Ontario project is a larger, long-term vision embraced by Shah and Kieran which envisions a sustainable community market space with multiple layers of social engagement and innovative solutions to pressing community challenges. The project celebrates and acknowledges Wawa’s rich Indigenous and diverse immigrant culture and heritage while providing creative housing options for residents with various needs, and home to emerging social enterprises and businesses.  The EDC office dedicated much time to this project to ensure it was community-driven, with diverse partners including local service organizations, First Nations, corporate partners, and all levels of Government.

EDD Shah and his EDC Team faced the pandemic challenges head-on.  The office was a vital source of support, resources and information guiding local retailers and businesses through the anxiety and confusion of an unstable economy.  Government supports and the crucial transition to online services flowed directly through the EDC Wawa office and provided economic stability where possible.  This team also took on a variety of important social topics by starting conversations and engagement on Truth and Reconciliation and First Nation marginalization, immigration, diversity, equity and inclusion.  All this while attempting to assist Wawa in navigating the benefits and challenges of our remote and strategic location in a rich, natural resource-based economic landscape of Northern Ontario.

The Economic Development activities in Wawa are being transformed to a new model of delivery.  This by no means is a reflection on the productivity or leadership provided to the community by the Economic Development Corporation of Wawa. The EDC of Wawa’s Board of Directors is proud of the work and dedicated engagement of the EDD and his entire team.  The Community of Wawa has truly benefited from their efforts.

The EDC of Wawa’s Board of Directors looks forward to a continued relationship of engagement and collaboration with all former Staff, all community partners and the new Economic Development & Tourism Department of the Municipality of Wawa as we continue to build on the good works of the past, with a shared goal of a vibrant, healthy, forward-thinking and abundant future for the Community of Wawa.

This Media Release