Economic ‘competition’ concerns reeve

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Could the High Prairie region soon have two regional economic development authorities?

While staff at Big Lakes County has initiated steps to create a new REDA, the reeve said at council’s June 13 meeting he does not want to interfere with the current Lesser Slave Lake Economic Alliance.

“We would be in competition with an existing economic development alliance,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

“That’s a concern I have.”

Deputy CAO Jordan Panasiuk reported to council that he is working with Alberta Economic Development and Trade to explore forming a new REDA in the region.

He says the Lesser Slave Lake Economic Alliance is no longer recognized as an REDA by Alberta Economic Development and Trade.

However, the LSLEA remains committed to forge ahead, even after its annual funding of $100,000 from the provincial government was terminated in April, LSLEA board chair Barry Sharkawi said in a news story in the South Peace News on June 13.

Moving forward, council agreed with Matthews that council meet with representatives of municipalities and original LSLEA members to discuss the future of an REDA that extends from High Prairie to Slave Lake.

Members of Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority were invited to a meeting June 14 with Town of High Prairie officials with the deputy minister of Economic Development and Trade arranged by the ministry.

“I want the provincial government to give us an opportunity to discuss it first with our partners,” Matthews says.

“We will decide what direction we want to go.”

Panasiuk writes in his report that Big Lakes County Regional Economic Development Authority is ready to form and lead a new entity.

“The ministry has stated that it remains committed to regional economic development in our area, which it noted should not replace local/community economic development, but rather should leverage it,” Panasiuk writes.

“Given our success with economic development to date, we have a leadership role to play in this process and are already doing the research and outreach to help move this process along.”

On another economic note, Panasiuk reports that Joyce Stokes has been contracted to serve as small business resources advisor. Her position is supported by funding of $170,265 approved under the Community and Regional Economic Support program announced April 9.

She has been hired to work one-on-one with companies to direct them to resources in Alberta.

Panasiuk adds the EDA is writing a proposal to attract a global agricultural plastics recycling firm that has seeking to open a $1 million operation and 4-6 staff in Alberta to service Alberta and Saskatchewan.


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