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CRB mulls economic committee

Morinville mayor skeptical of idea

By: Kevin Ma

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 06:00 am

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Local mayors are thinking about making the Capital Region Board a lead figure in the economic development of the Edmonton region.

CRB members voted unanimously last week to hold a workshop on whether or not they should form an economic development committee.

The board had a draft plan for such a group before it at last week’s meeting but elected to think it over some more before implementing it, said board chair and St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse.

“The board has to determine whether or not it wants to add economic development to its mandate,” he explained.

The CRB was created to implement a growth plan for the capital region with specific focus on land use, transit, affordable housing and geographic information services. Provincial regulations say the plan should co-ordinate regional actions to sustain economic growth, but don’t require the group to go out and promote it.

There are a vast number of economic development groups in the capital region, suggests a report to the board. Some work together, others on their own, but there’s no one group leading them all. The CRB could help create a single voice for economic development on the world stage through a new committee.

What the committee would do is up in the air at this point, the report reads. It could provide leadership and research dollars like the Texas Economic Development Council, for example, or it could be hands-on, setting specific goals and plans like the Columbus Region.

The report suggests that this committee could provide advice on job creation and business development, point out potential partnerships and promote the region as an economic powerhouse.

The bottom line is regional economic prosperity, Crouse said.

“If you can do it as a group, a rising tide lifts all ships.”

Crouse said he was neutral on this proposed committee at this point as so few details had been determined. The board also had to determine if there was an actual need for another group of this type.

Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes said she was skeptical of the concept.

“The most important thing we can do for economic development is to have a really strong growth plan,” she said, and revisions to that plan are already in progress. “That project needs to be a priority.”

While she supports the idea of marketing the region under a common banner, Holmes said communities are already doing good work promoting economic development through sub-regional organizations such as the Alberta Industrial Heartland. She was more in favour of supporting these existing groups than creating a new one.

The workshop should occur in the next three months, Crouse said.


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