Council approves grant application to start regional export alliance
Capital Region Export Alliance aims to increase local businesses' international markets
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 06:00 am
City council voted to endorse an application for a regional collaboration grant to get the proposed Capital Region Export Development Alliance (CREDA) off the ground.
Guy Boston, executive director for economic development for the city, explained to council that CREDA would have the aim at growing exports for regional businesses.
“So what we’re hoping to do with this is encourage local businesses with information and resources and connections to succeed in the global marketplace by providing access for export knowledge,” Boston said.
Council was being asked to endorse a grant application of $100,000 to get start-up funds for the initiative.
Other funds would ideally be raised through per-capita fees contributed by any member municipalities, fees for businesses that joined and charging for seminars and other events on a cost-recovery basis.
Boston said with St. Albert leading the efforts, smaller communities would be more interested in joining. He said the City of Edmonton and the Town of Bon Accord have confirmed interest and support for the grant application.
Coun. Cathy Heron suggested in future prioritization for regional collaboration grant applications might be a good idea. She said she’d originally been leaning against voting in favour because she wanted to see more businesses on board and had been concerned it might be too early for the new economic development department to tackle such a big project, but said she thought the effort was exciting.
Coun. Wes Brodhead called the approach “creative and proactive.”
Coun. Len Bracko said Canada’s been falling behind export opportunities in some developing countries and that it’s important to get access for Alberta’s regional products in such markets.
“It’s worth trying to make it work,” he said of the CREDA.
Coun. Cam MacKay suggested getting some more regional partners and trying to pre-sell memberships to some businesses as part of the application.
Coun. Malcolm Parker said this could be a tool to help retain businesses for St. Albert.
Mayor Nolan Crouse said he’d support the motion, but raised concerns the CREDA wouldn’t last in the long-term.
“I see it as a one-off,” he said. “I believe the notion is noble.”
The vote was unanimous to approve an endorsement of the grant application and to authorize the city manager to enter into a conditional grant agreement on behalf of the city. Coun. Roger Lemieux was absent.