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GUEST POST: Burlington Economic Development Announces New Executive Director

From left, Anita Cassidy, Burlington Economic Development Executive Director; Randy Smallbone, BED Board Chair; and Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.
From left, Anita Cassidy, Burlington Economic Development Executive Director; Randy Smallbone, BED Board Chair; and Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

*Please see below a media release issued by Burlington Economic Development.

January 7, 2020

Burlington Economic Development (Ec Dev) is pleased to announce the appointment of Anita Cassidy as Executive Director (effective Jan. 1, 2020). Anita has been in the role of Acting Executive Director since May 2018 when former Executive Director Frank McKeown retired. Anita has more than 15 years of experience in Economic Development delivering results-oriented strategies and programs that drive economic growth. She first joined Burlington Economic Development in 2011 and has since led a number of important projects.  

“Since being appointed Chair of Burlington Economic Development, I have had a close working relationship with Anita. I was pleased to be able to recommend to the Board that Anita be given the role of Executive Director. She has proven herself over the last 18 months, in a period of change for the City of Burlington.” — Randy Smallbone, Board Chair, Burlington Ec Dev

Anita brings a diverse background that includes fundraising, research and stakeholder management, program and project management, strategic planning, non-profit leadership, and finance administration. Anita is multilingual, speaking both Italian and French, and has lived and worked in six countries including Scotland, England, Italy, Belgium, the U.S., and Canada. Anita also holds a MSc in Economic Development from the University of Glasgow.  

Since becoming Acting Executive Director, Anita has led Burlington Ec Dev to a number of recent successes including the implementation of several of the recommendations resulting from the Mayor’s Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force. She also continues to collaborate with the City of Burlington on the development of a proposed Municipal Development Corporation, which will be under consideration by City Council in 2020. Anita oversaw the continued growth of TechPlace, which is going into its third year of operations this year. It was also under Anita’s leadership that Burlington Ec Dev led a successful pitch to Endress+Hauser to build a new 47,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art customer experience centre in Burlington. The company officially broke ground on the site in August 2019.  

In 2020, Burlington Ec Dev will undergo a review of its governance structure to determine how to best deliver on the economic development mandate for the city. Anita is looking forward to participating in this process and sees it as a crucial opportunity to check in on the city’s progress toward achieving the economic goals laid out in the City’s 25-year Strategic Plan.  

Anita has and will continue to make partnership a top priority at Economic Development, working closely with colleagues at the City, Halton Region, Tourism, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Burlington’s Business Improvement Areas to support economic prosperity in Burlington and across the region. 


I’m delighted by the closer bonds between Burlington Economic Development and City staff and Council, fostered under Anita’s leadership. She has shown herself to be an enthusiastic and collaborative partner throughout recent initiatives, including the Mayor’s Red Tape Red Carpet Task Force, taking the lead on implementing several of these. I look forward to continuing to work closely together to deliver on our shared goal of attracting new businesses to Burlington and helping our existing businesses expand.

*NOTE: Mayor Meed Ward has sat on the Burlington Ec Dev Board of Directors since fall 2018.

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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