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Thebacha MLA Michael Miltenberger at a Nov. 26 business development conference in Fort Smith. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Let's try to get along

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Fort Smith (Dec 06/04) - For the first time ever, 90 people representing Fort Smith's business and political sectors got together to discuss economic opportunities.

By the conclusion of the Nov. 26 conference, several prominent themes had emerged, most notably the need for more co-operation between various groups in Fort Smith.

Thebacha MLA Michael Miltenberger said business and political leaders need to work more closely together to eliminate friction in the community.

"People are looking for a way, a forum, a chance to come together and move forward," he said.

The group also concluded that the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce should be revived, which Miltenberger noted has been struggling with low membership.

Smith's Landing First Nation Acting Chief Fred Daniels, former Chamber president, said town council should work with the Chamber as equals. "One should not be above the other."

Another concern was that some action come out of the conference, which was organized by Miltenberger and RWED.

"We're going to definitely move on this," the MLA said, noting follow-up meetings will be held and a final report on the conference issued in January.

Businessman Don Jaque also suggested a meeting every two months between the business community and town council.

Although no timetable for meetings was set, Martselos said he is always willing to meet business people. "From the town's point of view, the door is always open."

Other suggestions included focusing on the proposed expansion of the Taltson Hydro project, an all-weather road to Fort Chipewyan, an English as a second language summertime program at Aurora College for Japanese students and a local trade show to promote business.