Representatives from municipalities, counties, and First Nations communities across northwest Alberta (and as far south as Drayton Valley) gathered in Mayerthorpe on Tuesday for a workshop by Invest Alberta (IA) highlighting exciting economic opportunities becoming available in the province. The Town of Mayerthorpe and GROWTH Alberta partnered to make this opportunity available, with the Town of Mayerthorpe hosting the event and GROWTH sponsoring lunch and refreshments for the attendees.
One of nine Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDAs) in Alberta, GROWTH supports the area encompassing Swan Hills, Woodlands County, and Mayerthorpe. REDAs are non-profit organizations consisting of member community representatives and regional stakeholders who work together to cultivate business growth and prosperity within a defined geographic area. GROWTH has the distinction of having recently become the first and only REDA in the province to be designated under the Rural Renewal Stream of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.
IA was established in 2020 as a crown corporation with a mandate to bring investment and jobs to Alberta. The workshop on Tuesday gave an overview of what IA does, including how they narrow down the industry sectors they pursue and which markets (domestic and international) they seek to open up. One of the main themes that kept coming up throughout the day was regional collaboration, how multiple smaller communities in a region can work together to “bring more to the table” to attract investment than a single municipality might be able to accomplish by itself.
One of the first things that IA has done is work to identify any “clusters” (groups of companies in the same field, associated supply chains and logistics frameworks, support industries/services, etc.) in industry sectors in the province. Three significant clusters were identified: energy, agriculture, and forestry, with various smaller clusters showing potential. Based on these clusters, IA drills down further to assess the available talent pool, inputs and resources, market access, and other considerations for different regions in the province. Understandably, different regions will be more suitable for specific sectors.
One of the strategies IA is following is to seek out investment from relatively untapped markets, making a point not to go where everyone else is going to seek investment. For example, in the United States, they are looking more toward cities like Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Denver instead of established investment capital titans like New York, Boston, or San Francisco.
The workshop also focused on some aspects of a community where they can be accommodating to entice investment, such as ensuring their policies and regulations are amenable to the industry they are trying to attract and ensuring that land or facilities are available with suitable supporting infrastructure and utilities.
By Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Oct 18, 2023 at 16:06