Town of Strathmore council discussed an economic development action plan, during the Mar. 6 regular meeting, aiming to establish a baseline for business needs. 

The economic development action plan is also designed to facilitate well-informed decision making, and to develop a three-year framework for supporting local businesses, and attracting new investment to the town. 

“Strathmore needed an economic development plan. Not just a plan from experts to tell us what to do, but one that serves the local businesses and listens to their needs,” said Angela Groeneveld, economic sustainability and investment officer for the Town of Strathmore.  “We needed an action plan to help our community to thrive and grow, and even more passionately, we needed this plan because (we are) recovering from the recent COVID-19 (pandemic).”

Groeneveld suggested the necessity for a plan which recognized the problems local businesses are facing, and the barriers to growth. 

The project to develop the plan consisted of two parts, being a business needs assessment, and an economic development action plan. 

The business needs assessment saw a business café event hosted to interview local business owners, as well as the compilation of studies and surveys conducted since 2015. 

Of the 2,343 active business licenses in Strathmore, 566 are locally owned within the community. 

An economic development action plan aims to address the main challenges faced by businesses, and outline how to pursue growth and development opportunities.

“Unlike previous community economic development studies … (that) revolve around conceptual discussions from experts and consultants, this plan is different. It is a practical plan, it is an impactful resource designed from implementation for the next 12 months with strategic goals,” said Groeneveld. “The reason why it is this way is because we participated listening to the business owners first, and not the experts. We took what they needed to make into the plan, and this is what is going to make this a successful economic development plan because of the buy in right from the beginning.”

The 12-month plan Groeneveld detailed to council aimed to launch immediately following the council meeting, while the longer-term plan would work with internal departments to execute the rest of council’s priorities.

No financial commitments were required to be made by council as of the presentation beyond the staff time required to complete the reports. A subsequent report will be brought back to council later this month. 

The full presentation made to council, as well as the report are publicly available via the public meeting agenda, as well as the Town of Strathmore YouTube channel.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 13, 2024 at 19:33

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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