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Entrepreneurial spirit thrives
Fort Resolution economic development officer likes seeing business expansion in area

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 13, 2013

Amy Miersch believes the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Fort Resolution. And who better to know than the economic development officer (EDO) in the community.

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Amy Miersch is the economic development officer in Fort Resolution. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Miersch said she is impressed with the ideas people come up with for new businesses.

"I offer support, advice and assistance with any business owners or entrepreneurs in the community," said Miersch, who was born and raised in Fort Resolution.

That can mean helping to start up or expand businesses, providing marketing information and helping to find funding.

Economic development officers are either employed directly by the Department of Industry, Trade and Investment or the GNWT enters into a contribution agreement with a community government to hire an EDO.

In Miersch's case, she works for Deninu Ku'e First Nation. She is not a member of the band, but part of the Metis community in Fort Resolution.

As an EDO, she serves everyone in Fort Resolution, she said. "It's the entire community."

Miersch just turned 28 years old and has been working as an EDO for five years. She was only about 23 when she started right out of college. Back then, she was possibly the youngest economic development officer in the NWT.

"I was the youngest pretty much," she said. "I would go off to the workshops and I'd be the youngest person in the group."

Miersch never found that to be intimidating.

"I enjoy learning, so I was pretty confident."

She was hired as an EDO after earning a certificate in office administration from Aurora College in Fort Smith in 2008. Currently, she is studying for a certificate in professional economic development from the University of Waterloo, a program which includes attending workshops, such as one this week in Edmonton, and distance education.

Miersch has helped many people and businesses over the past five years.

"I've helped a lot of businesses start up. I've helped a lot of businesses grow," she said. "I've helped numerous people with arts and crafts and with harvesting."

Miersch explained she can't help anyone seek a grant for an idea if it will compete with an existing business because that might cause market disruption.

The main funding program that's available is the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) program through the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. It offers up to $25,000 in support.

She feels she is making a difference in the community.

"I feel good about it," she said. "I like seeing the community expand. I like seeing people starting their own businesses or employing other people if they have a small business. It's not just going to employ them, but they're going to get to employ one or two or five other people. I enjoy doing that because I know the economy in town is growing."

Miersch said one thing that may help the economy in Fort Resolution is the mining sector in nearby areas. She also thinks there are also other business opportunities in the community, such as in the tourism sector. Her goals are to continue to help businesses and entrepreneurs.

"I just want to see the Fort Resolution economy grow," she said. "I want to see more businesses. I want to see it thriving."

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