On June 30th, 2017, Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Minister Danielle Larivee’s Office hosted a media launch event at Christie’s Gardens and Greenhouse to present the “Big Lakes Diversification and SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) Support Initiative.”
As part of the Alberta Jobs Plan, the Alberta government allocated $30 million over the course of two years to promote long-term economic growth and prosperity in Alberta’s communities and region and they called this program Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES). In February of 2017 our Big Lakes County EDA successfully obtained a $59,190 grant from Alberta Cares. The EDA is using this grant money to research ten sectors: agriculture, energy, forestry, transportation and logistics, tourism, education, construction, health, retail, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). In 2017, the focus is on agriculture, tourism, ICT, and energy.
For each sector, the EDA gathers information through research and tours as a first step to produce sector profiles. It then identifies opportunities for diversification and growth together with local companies and industry experts. Next, the EDA develops a focused, actionable plan and works to implement it with partners. Finally, the EDA works with participating local companies on one challenge for their business and gathers information to feature them in an online business directory slated for completion in 2018 on the Big Lakes County website.
The sector profiles, tours, plans, and directory provide information and tools for all current and future stakeholders involved in the economic success of the County – government, businesses, investors, organizations, and residents and visitors. This helps them to make informed decisions about their investments within Big Lakes County.
Agriculture is currently in the planning phase. A session was held in May with local business owners and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry representatives. The Agriculture Sector Profile is available online on Big Lakes Townfolio profile. The Agriculture Tour was held on October 18th, 2016. The EDA invited investors, the Premier’s Office, and agri-business government experts to the county. These guests joined County council members, Ag. Service Board members, and local businesses such as Christie’s Gardens and Greenhouse and the Seed Cleaning Co-Op. A journalist from The Western Producer came from Lethbridge for the tour and later published four articles about county agri-businesses. The tour created new customers for the Seed Cleaning Co-op as guests tweeted about the facility to their followers throughout Alberta. Guests and hosts alike benefited from the experience.
Tourism is currently in the planning phase. The Tourism Tour was held on June 27, 2017. The EDA invited Brendan Newman from Tourism Alberta, Tracey Desjardins from Travel Alberta, Mike Waddell from Tourism Alberta, Steve Eppley from It Advantage, and Kaylyn Jackson from Lesser Slave Watershed Council. These guests joined County council members on a tour through the High Prairie Airport, Grourard Museum, Shaw’s Point, Spruce Point Park, and the Kinuso Museum. Guests enjoyed a boat ride on the lake to further understand tourism in the area.
Big Lakes County Reeve Ken Matthews, Hon. Minister Danielle Larivee, & Big Lakes County EDA Lisa Baroldi