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New Face of Economic Development

By Michael Potestio - Merritt Herald
Published: September 10, 2013 8:00 AM

The City of Merritt’s new economic development manager, Jerry Sucharyna, is settling in to his new job.

Sucharyna said he’s excited about the potential he sees in Merritt with the BC Hydro expansion of electricity coming to town.

Given the added electrical power coming from BC Hydro and the Merritt Green Energy Project, Sucharyna said he sees a greater predominance for manufacturing in Merritt, especially given Merritt’s central location to the Okanagan and Lower Mainland.

“We’re centrally located and we can do a lot, and with the new power coming on I see a very strong influx of workers coming in and a positive push into the financial part of the community as well as the spinoffs from that, so growth all around,” Sucharyna said.

Sucharyna said the next six months on the job will be critical as he plans to build relationships with businesses, non-profit organizations and the people of Merritt.

“I want to know the community from the position of the business and economic development manager,” Sucharyna said.

“I want to know what the needs are, what the business is looking for, what non-profit groups’ interests are, how we can work together, build bridges and forge new partnerships.”

Sucharyna said he’s been visiting Merritt for the past four years and described it as “a vibrant community” with a “positive energy in it.”

Sucharyna, a father of two, comes to Merritt from Lillooet where he was manager of economic development since 2007.

He told the Herald he wanted to come to Merritt because it has more to offer and more resources in the school system, in addition to being a larger city than where he came from.

“We’ve got friends and I’ve got some family here and so it’s going to be our home,” Sucharyna said.

He said he’s lived in B.C. for the past 17 years but originally hails from Ontario.

Sucharyna said he’s been working in economic development for the past 15 years.

Sucharyna said he has also worked for First Nations groups — including as an economic and business development officer for the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation — and has worked for both non-profit and for-profit organizations.

For 13 years, he also ran his own construction business.

“I’ve always had a strong pull toward entrepreneurship and toward small business and seeing the benefit that those businesses have in the community,” Sucharyna said, adding small business people have a vested interest in the community.

Sucharyna said he also puts an emphasis on youth entrepreneurship as well.

“I see the kid that’s pushing a lawnmower could be running the next landscaping business or the kid that’s selling lemonade at the side of the street could be all of a sudden the next web guru who’s selling online, so we [should] never underestimate the power of the youth and the influence that we have on them,” Sucharyna said.

Sucharyna said he wants to be a part of this city’s growth and would like to see Merritt become better-known.

“I’m very passionate about working hard and making the best of a situation and [I] want to be a part of the team,” Sucharyna said. “The staff and the management of Merritt, the city and the council, are very proactive and I look forward to working with all of them, because they’re all so passionate about their jobs, their community and the growth and the potential of Merritt.”