V.P. of Community Development at Edmonton International Airport, Myron Keehn, spoke of the ways that EIA has grown and contributes to the local economy and community.
The May Chamber luncheon opened with the information that growth at the Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce is still growing by leaps and bounds with another 19 members joining in April.
County Councillor Jocelyn Mackay led the crowd in O'Canada and Pastor Grant McDowell said Grace prior to the afternoon's main speaker taking to the stage.
May's guest speaker was Mr. Myron Keehn, VP of Community Development for Edmonton International Airport.
Mr. Keehn began his presentation by informing everyone that EIA is actually a not-for-profit organization who's main main purpose is to drive economic development in the international Region. He joked that in the beginning they quickly discovered that no boxes actually move via the internet, and spoke of how EIA is one of the main economic engines in the area. The Airport directly employs more than 5,000 people with another 10,000 jobs having been created through businesses that work in partnership with the airport.
Mr. Keehn shared that in his opinion EIA has the three most important things an airport needs to be successful; top notch management, world class facilities, and non-stop flights to key areas of the world. He stated that "We allow Edmonton access to the world, and the world access to Edmonton. If we couldn't keep pace we would become a block to success."
The 2012 expansion that created 13 new gates to serve northern and US hubs was partially credited to last year's growth of 6-7%. "We are the fastest growing regional airport in the country," said Mr. Keehn, "and this year we should hit the 7 million passenger mark."
In regard to the recent rapid growth at the airport, Mr. Keehn said that as he was speaking, staff was moving into the "iconic" new control tower that could be seen from Hwy 2. He also informed everyone that the distinctive design of the tower was one-of-a-kind and owned by EIA.
Another new addition to the airport which is currently in the construction stage, is the Marriott Hotel that is expected to be completed "July/August-ish" acknowledging the sometimes changeable dates on builds. Mr. Keehn said that no matter what, the hotel has to be completed by the fall because they already have it booked for some events. "I might have to grab a paint brush and give them a hand but it will be done by the fall!" laughed Mr. Keehn.
It's a particular point of pride for EIA to have this hotel on site as there are only two other Renaissance Hotels in Canada (one in Vancouver and the other in Toronto) and this is the first one in the world located at an airport.
Mr. Keehn tied up his presentation by saying that EIA's inaugural non-stop Edmonton to New York City flight (which had taken place the day before) had only become possible with support from the business community that could be found in the room that day. He said that the airport and community coming together drives flights and enables Edmonton to become a global hub. "The investment in infrastructure opens up Edmonton and area to the world." stated Mr. Keehn.
Just before Mr. Keehn exited the podium, Mayor Krischke commented from the audience that he was very pleased to hear that Mr. Keehn had chosen Leduc as his place to live.
This set up Mr. Keehn to get the biggest laugh of the day when he replied "And I'm pleased to be paying taxes here!"
The luncheon ended on a high note when the 50/50 draw was won by City Councillor David MacKenzie and he immediately donated the $148.00 back to the Leduc Food Bank.
The next luncheon will be held on Friday June 7th at the Executive Royal Inn. With luncheons continuing to sell out early it is recommended to reserve your tickets as soon as possible to be sure you don't miss out on a seat.