Big Lakes targets CARES funding

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County is seeking more funding from the provincial CARES grant program in an effort to further develop the economy.

At its regular meeting Nov. 8, council authorized administration to apply for a Community and Regional Economic Support grant from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

We would apply for $300,000,” says deputy CAO Jordan Panasiuk.

The grant would be matched by the county.”

Funding would further projects in 2018-2019, to build on projects supported by a $59,190 grant awarded in February 2017 for Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority (EDA).

The CARES application will aim to hire a contract economic development co-ordinator and research analyst,” Panasiuk says in a report.

A research analyst can help provide research for new opportunities and local companies, as well as maintain current research undertaken by the EDA and research and update relevant statistics for the county.”

A partnership to build business is another focus of the funding.

One project outcome we hope to incorporate in the grant is a non-financial partnership with the Big Lakes County EDA, Northern Alberta Development Council, Community Futures and High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce to engage a consultant for two years to work one-on-one with businesses in the area that we are looking to grow,” Panasiuk says.

That resource would be contracted by the EDA to co-ordinate Big Lakes Business Support Service for all businesses located within the county’s boundaries.

Dependent on the grant funding, Big Lakes County will be able to enhance and make economic development projects sustainable,” Panasiuk says.

Funding will be used to continue to enhance sector tours, profiles and data gathering.”

CARES funding helped the county host sector tours, build sector profiles and create an online business directory.

The county was presented the Best Publication Award for its sector profiles from the Economic Developers Association of Canada at the annual conference on Sept. 12 in Niagara Falls.

Under the government, the two-year CARES program ends in 2018.

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