Dig-In wins provincial economic award

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St. Albert’s economic development team took home a top provincial award for its popular horticulinary festival.

Last week, during the Economic Developers Alberta’s annual general meeting in Kananaskis, St. Albert was awarded a Community Economic Development excellence award for its Dig In Festival.

The Community Economic Development award is given to a project or a program that has measurable impact on the community, elicits community involvement and helps to improve the social conditions within the community.

Designed as a way to promote St. Albert as a culinary destination and bring non-resident spending to the area, the two-day horticulture and culinary event shines a spotlight on local chefs and embodies the city’s botanical arts brand. It involves local restaurant fare, workshops, culinary walking tours and contests.

Last year, Dig In was successful in attracting 10 per cent of visitors from outside the capital region and generated an estimated $32,500 in economic impact – hotel stays, meals and retail speanding.

“We’re really excited and proud of the festival and proud of the impact it’s going to have on St. Albert,” said Dawn Fedorvich, economic development officer for St. Albert and organizer of the festival for the past two years.

In addition to the excellence award, St. Albert also won the Alex Matcalfe Award, which goes to the “best of the beat” in each category.

“That was an added bonus,” said Fedorvich.

Adena Cheverie, the 2016 awards chair, said that other communities could learn from St. Albert’s Dig In success.

“It was a great idea for not only the community of St. Albert, but maybe other communities, within Alberta and beyond that pride themselves with catering to foodies and green thumbs,” said Cheverie.

The city also entered the Business and Investment Attraction category with its Investor Profile initiative – a publication created last year to introduce developers to St. Albert.

During the annual general meeting Sean McRitchie, manager of business attraction for St. Albert, and Shaun Goodeve, economic development coordinator for Morinville, were elected to the 2016-17 Economic Developers Alberta board of directors.

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Michelle Ferguson