As labour-starved Saskatchewan looks to lure residents, a group of local companies has signed a new pitchman – Canada's top-ranked golfer.
Saskatchewan-born Graham DeLaet will now compete wearing a ThinkSask.ca logo after being sponsored by a group of Saskatchewan companies as part of a project championed by Premier Brad Wall.
Mr. Wall joined Mr. DeLaet at an announcement Tuesday in Oakville, Ont., which is the host of the RBC Canadian Open this week. The 31-year-old golfer said he was proud to represent Saskatchewan under the sponsorship deal, which runs until September, 2014, and will also see him attend a series of events in the province.
"I think the Saskatchewan way of life is hard-working, and I kind of feel like I fit that mould," he said, after thanking the Premier. "Brad's one of my biggest fans. I know for sure because he's always tweeting me – more than my wife."
Mr. Wall welcomed Mr. DeLaet as "the perfect ambassador" for the ThinkSask campaign, which was launched in 2010 with the goal of easing the labour shortage in the booming Prairie province. The website essentially acts as a gateway for tourism information, job postings and business opportunities.
"Graham DeLaet, what he's doing, is historic for Saskatchewan golf," Mr. Wall told The Globe and Mail, adding: "He had American broadcasters pronouncing 'Saskatchewan' correctly. That was a start."
Mr. DeLaet's sponsorship money is all corporate – five Saskatchewan companies formed the Ambassador Alliance. Mr. Wall, describing himself as "a golf nerd," reached out to companies to sponsor ambassadors, and stressed taxpayers aren't footing the bill.
"It's a bit of a pilot [project]. There are other Saskatchewan people, both in sports and in other endeavours, who are doing well, and we're going to try to develop more and more ambassadors to get this brand out and drive people to consider opportunities in Saskatchewan," Mr. Wall said Tuesday.
Mr. DeLaet is ranked 67th worldwide. He sits 32nd on the PGA money list, with $1,577,300 (U.S.) in earnings this year and five top-10 finishes. He was born and raised in Weyburn, Sask., and, according to his PGA biography, now lives in Idaho.
"I've been watching Graham's career and thinking, man, if there was only a way we could leverage what he's doing," said Mr. Wall, who is in Ontario for meetings of Canada's premiers. Mr. Wall is serving as something of an ambassador himself – he'll be wearing a ThinkSask shirt during this week's meetings. "That won't annoy the other premiers at all," he said.