After years of discussion and planning, the City of Steinbach will be getting an Economic Development Officer to spearhead economic growth.

In fact, for a number of councillors, hiring an Economic Development Officer or EDO in Steinbach was something they campaigned on in the last municipal election.

This new Economic Development Plan is a pilot program. The city has committed to funding the program for five years at $65,000 a year with the private sector matching that funding.

Councillor Damian Penner moved to approve the plan at Tuesday's city council meeting. He says this is a big step forward for Steinbach.

"It's really exciting to have a position now within the city that is dedicated to growing our city, developing our city, developing jobs, developing a little bit of tourism as well and to have a real drive to get our city moving forward."

Penner says the city will not be directly involved in the day-to-day activities of the EDO.

"It is important to me that this office not be actively run by city administration but rather, the proposed board of directors, composed of private stakeholders and chamber of commerce administration. This allows freedom for the office to give feedback to us as public stakeholders which is important to allowing policy and city procedures to be critiqued and advice freely able to be provided for our consideration."

The proposed governing committee will be formed to oversee the hiring of the new EDO and they will also set the pilot program’s strategic goals. The EDO will work out of the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce offices.

Mayor Earl Funk says city council will meet with the governing committee and the EDO twice a year to make sure that everyone is up to date on what is going on, but otherwise they will give the EDO space to work.

"What makes me excited is this is the first plan of this type that I have ever heard of before, where a private investor group is working with the city to hire an economic development officer. It is truly a private-public partnership."

Funk notes it is important to give a new program like this time to succeed.

"You need to give it five years. It needs to have some time, that way it will go into the third year of the next council term and then that next council can reevaluate to see if this will continue."

Having been involved for years now, Councillor Susan Penner says it feels great to see this plan come to fruition.

"As members of the Community Development Corporation, the mayor and myself have been working with the chamber on this for about a year and a half, so to come to a plan that we can both agree with and both be excited about is something that I am looking forward too."