Job Title: Founder, The Edmonton Project; Director, Business Development, EllisDon Construction Services Inc.
Why He’s Top 40: He’s building a better Edmonton through his ability to form teams and initiatives such as The Edmonton Project.
Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson’s biggest mentor, his grandpa, gave him plenty of advice, and one piece stuck with him the most: “Right idea, right time, right people, and the money will come.”
It’s a philosophy that’s given him faith in every project, including his founding of the Edmonton chapter of NAIOP, a commercial real-estate association. He noted the absence of this important professional construction association here, so he picked up the phone and called people he barely knew to start one. That’s when he first realized Edmontonians were up for any good idea: “There’s something special cooking in Edmonton. It feels like this place where you go, sit down, pitch your idea, and people raise their hand and say ‘I’m in.'”
He’s an adventurous person in his professional life – where he only takes on opportunities if they’re new or in an exciting state of change – and his personal life, where he regularly travels around the world. In southern Ethiopia, a frequent destination of his, he’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to build clean water infrastructure in the region and gone on biking trips across the rough terrain.
His idea for The Edmonton Project, which asked average Edmontonians to pitch city-building ideas for a privately funded competition, came from a conversation with his friend, Aziz Bootwala. Afterward, Hansen-Carlson typed up the project’s whole vision on one page, and that was all he needed to build a team around it – he has a talent for uniting people and recommends “keeping it simple and being a good storyteller.” The winning project, a gondola connecting Whyte Avenue and downtown, has already received international attention and interest.
Though the project has had a mixed reception locally, Hansen-Carlson commits to everything he takes on and will find the best and simplest way to complete the project. As his grandpa advised him, “Somebody has to be the face and driver behind change,” and he is happy to take on that responsibility. “I have a fundamental belief that there’s always a better way to build a city and we should never get complacent,” he says.