The City of Terrace’s economic development manager position has been filled by a familiar face.
Deklan Corstanje, who had been the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS)’s economic development officer, has switched offices and will now be working for the city.
“It’s a move up and it’s more responsibility, it was an opportunity to stay in my community so I don’t have to uproot my family,” says Corstanje.
“I was born and raised here, so I get to work for my hometown and really give back because it’s done a lot for me. I’m going to do what I can for it.”
Working with the RDKS since 2016, Corstanje says he looks forward to using his regional knowledge to help improve Terrace.
As the regional district’s economic development officer, he’s overseen how different communities approach matters and that has improved his understanding of how various issues affect the Northwest.
“Nothing is a foreign concept here, I just get to sort of move from approximate knowledge to more specific and operational knowledge… and I think being able to bring in my regional contacts to know what’s going on around the entire region will help,” he says. “A big part of economic development is leveraging relationships to move the needle on shared priorities with other groups and I intend to do just that.”
Although the roles have their similarities, the city’s manager position comes with a lot more expectations — especially as the city continues to grow in anticipation of an industrial boom.
But Corstanje says he’s prepared for the challenges. Having worked with Danielle Myles Wilson, the city’s previous economic development manager, on many projects, he knows what he needs to bring to the table.
“I partnered with the city on several projects before and working with Danielle, I got to hear about the community’s priorities and different projects that they’re working on,” Corstanje says.
“I’m still very fresh in the position so I’m discovering things and learning things as I go but I’ve got a good team around me and very clear direction from [city] council to know what needs to be done.”
Corstanje’s previous experiences also include working as an economic development intern for the Northern Development Initiative Trust in Prince George and as a crew member for the BC Wildfire Services. He graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia with a Bachelor of Health Sciences in 2016.
When asked to define what economic development is, Corstanje says it’s tricky to describe as it links to anything related to the quality of life and business development, including program, policies and projects that improve the economic wellbeing of a community.
“It takes form in different ways in different communities, depending on what the needs are,” he says. “Being solely reliant on one industry or one sector [is unreliable], so trying to build up the existing businesses and also attract others will complement the existing economy and help everybody grow and prosper.”
Corstanje adds that he is determined to keep the city moving forward and to take advantage of opportunities that will make Terrace better.
“Danielle did a lot for this city… I’ll use my passion and my love for my community to help push my work ethic,” Corstanje says. “I’m going to do everything I can to make it a place that I can raise my family in.”