Penticton hires economic development officer

Colleen Pennington will take over the position that has been vacant for more than three months

The City of Penticton has finally named a new economic development officer, after having the position empty for more than three months.

During the regular council meeting Monday, city manager Annette Antoniak announced that the city was in final negotiations with a person to fill the position, and by Tuesday morning had announced that Colleen Pennington was the successful candidate for the position.

“Colleen is a seasoned senior executive with extensive experience in leadership, strategy, management, business development and operations,” said Antoniak. “We are incredibly pleased to have her join the team and lead economic development for the area.”

Pennington officially joins the city effective July 9, a little more than three months after the Penticton terminated the contract with the previous EDO, Dave Arsenault. Until earlier this year, the economic development contract had been dealt with at arm’s length through the Penticton Chamber of Commerce. But in late March, the city decided to bring those services in house and make the EDO a city employee.

Arsenault’s contract was terminated immediately, leaving the position vacant while the city conducted an extensive job search and interview process.

Mayor Dan Ashton said bringing economic development services in house was such a radical change that leaving the position vacant while they conducted their competition to find an individual to fit the new criteria was a necessity.

Pennington previously worked at the Transportation Investment Corporation and spent 16 years at Telus as a portfolio assessment director for the venture capital division and as a director of business development.

As EDO, Pennington will be responsible for attracting, expanding and supporting the City of Penticton’s commercial, industrial and public enterprises to positively affect the economic health of the city. While the position was vacant, those duties were shared by the mayor and city manager, a situation Antoniak admits was less than ideal.

“We have done our best to deal with any economic development issues that have come forward,” said Antoniak. “I have been handling it over the last three months to the best of my abilities.”