Categories: Provincial News

Economic development cash for CRB

This week’s provincial grant to the Capital Region Board should be a boon to investment in St. Albert, says the city’s mayor.

Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous announced Thursday that he was giving the Capital Region Board (CRB) $300,000 to research the creation of an arms-length economic development agency. The grant comes from the province’s Community and Regional Economic Support program.

This cash will help pay for the research and staff the new group needs to get off the ground, CRB chair Nolan Crouse said.

“The end objective is to be able to attract business to improve the GDP of this region.”

Bilous said that the Edmonton region was the second-fastest growing place in Canada economically and was home to some 725,000 jobs. This grant would help the CRB create a single body that could draw international investment to this region and help local businesses break into new markets.

“We really need to have our municipalities collaborating if we want to compete on the world stage,” Bilous said.

The CRB voted in 2014 to create an arms-length economic development group.

Unlike other parts of Canada, Edmonton doesn’t have a formal economic development group, said Lisa Holmes, chair of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. This new group will act as a one-stop shop for investors to learn about all the opportunities in this region.

This new group will have dedicated staff and funding behind it that its current nearest equivalent, the volunteer-based Greater Edmonton Economic Development Team, does not have, said Schaun Goodeve, who chairs that team.

“It comes down to macro-marketing,” he said.

Goodeve said this new CRB group would get Edmonton on the radars of investors and supplement, not replace, the efforts of local economic development departments. He anticipated that his team would serve as an adviser to the group.

Crouse said this group could help St. Albert draw more businesses to its 600-acre Employment Lands region.

Kevin Ma: Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.