There is no denying that the physical distance between Lethbridge and Edmonton is great, and from a government relations perspective, it presents a constant barrier. This is true not only for the University of Lethbridge, but also for a myriad of southern Alberta organizations.
A constant and co-ordinated effort is therefore needed to overcome this distance. The recent Team Lethbridge initiative is an important part of that process, giving Lethbridge-area institutions and organizations the opportunity to make important inroads to both elected and non-elected government members.
The U of L, along with 14 other organizations, joined Team Lethbridge as it travelled to Edmonton to meet with ministers, deputy ministers and other high-ranking officials. Led by Economic Development Lethbridge, the overall message to government officials highlighted the contribution that Lethbridge and area make to strengthening the Alberta economy and improving the quality of life for Albertans and beyond.
Local organizations, such as the City of Lethbridge, the Chamber of Commerce, the Allied Arts Council, Lethbridge Regional Police Services and the Lethbridge and District Exhibition, were able to send three representatives to cover off the flurry of meetings and events that were scheduled.
President Dr. Mike Mahon, Vice-President (Research) Dr. Dan Weeks and myself attended on behalf of the U of L. In addition to participating in the meetings, the U of L and Lethbridge College created a separate opportunity for other Team Lethbridge members to meet with the government caucus, senior departmental officials, as well as Alberta Legislature senior staff.
Enlightening the provincial government about the outstanding work being done at the U of L, as well as its key priorities moving forward is essential to maintaining a strong government relations strategy. The Team Lethbridge trip also serves as an excellent community relations opportunity, acting much like a retreat for Lethbridge organizations. The dialogue that occurs with the mayor, aldermen and community leaders is invaluable to the U of L.
Administration, faculty members, staff and students take great pride in the roles they play in the community. It was equally evident from the trip that these community organizations place an equivalent value on their relationship with the U of L.
Speaking in a unified voice offers strength and credibility to the message, which is one of the great benefits of the Team Lethbridge initiative. Furthermore, it creates a framework for future collaboration between local members.
The fact that a number of MLAs privately exclaimed they'd like to see their communities participate in similar initiatives, underscores the effectiveness of the Team Lethbridge visit.
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