Northern Sunrise County (NSC), AB continues to be a strong advocate for attraction of entrepreneurs and businesses to their community.
Council has made huge strides in recent years, trying to help small businesses grow and blossom all while introducing new options to residents and increasing its own tax base for sustainability.
NSC economic development officer Lynn Florence explains there are several initiatives in the community to help new businesses take flight. She explains the County is trying to help diversify and expand on the businesses currently in the region.
“(We’re trying) to support products that are grown in our county and introduce different business opportunities, as well as bringing in businesses that would complement the region,” she says.
“Some businesses are looking at developing new products to sell using what they already produce. We are also working with a fourth-generation farming family that wants to expand their services so that the younger generation can be a part of the business.”
Florence explains the County has been promoting various programs to support introduction of various businesses into the county. She notes that the County does have some conceptual plans developed that interested entrepreneurs can see by calling Florence.
“The County is open to any artisan business that would like to open up shop, so to speak,” Florence says.
“We have developed some conceptual plans for a farm store, glamping, and a distillery or wine
The farm store idea would be a store selling locally grown or produced fresh meat, eggs, vegetables and baking.
“We also looked at a small cheese manufacturing facility due to the dairy farm we have in our county,”
she says. “With poutine being a large part of our culture, I thought cheese curds would be a great idea to have made locally.”
She also said the County has looked at glamping (glamourous camping) to attract tourists to the county.
“The County offers so many beautiful spots to allow new and returning tourists to enjoy breathtaking views,” explains Florence.
“The county has three rivers running through it and lots of wilderness to enjoy.”
Florence says they have also done an evaluation on distillery or wine businesses that could be opened in the county, noting that the economic development council took a tour of Crabby Goat near Valleyview and Shady Orchard near High Prairie, and they thought it would be a good fit for NSC.
“We have many fruit growers in our county from Saskatoons, haskaps, raspberries, and strawberries,” says Florence noting that wine and distillery businesses have very different requirements and regulations.
“We thought a winery would be a good fit to diversify or source the fruits that are needed to make wine. Grain producers could also supply a distillery with wheat needed for distilling.”
One of the goals of introducing new business to the county is to retain young people or have them return to the region to live and work.
“We would love to have them (new businesses) in the business park, but we welcome development anywhere in the county that follows our Land-Use Bylaws,” she says.
“The Sunrise Gateway Business Park has high speed fiber internet, and we are currently working on a bylaw for business development incentives for new development. We also have developers able and ready to build if needed.”
The proposed non-residential property tax incentive will provide a 75 per cent exemption on taxes in the first year, then a 50 per cent exemption on taxes on the second year, a 25 per cent exemption in the third year, and finally back to normal tax rates the fourth year. These exemptions will be provided to any new business in the Sunrise Gateway Business Park that has a minimum assessment of $250,000.
“The County funds the Entrepreneur Grant and the Value-Added Agricultural and Tourism Grant,” she says. “If people are interested in either of these grants, they can reach out to me or find the information on our website.”
Florence explains the County works with Peace Country Community Futures for any business coaching required. She says that building in the park could be a great opportunity for any new business looking to set its roots. With constant traffic to the Cecil Thompson Park in the summer, businesses could see a high volume of traffic visiting and shopping.
“Whether the business is small or large they are all a part of a healthy and thriving economy,” she says.
“They create jobs, and most will also give back to the community by volunteering and donations for local fundraisers. Business owners are now facing multiple challenges from staffing, marketing, and inflation. The County is there to listen, advocate, offer workshops and help share government information or programs.”
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Feb 10, 2023