A campaign to bring foreign direct investment to Central Alberta now has an eye-catching logo and boosters from the local business community.
Red Deer Regional Economic Development (RDRED) and Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) unveiled on Wednesday a brand they hope will help market the region to prospective investors from other countries. Titled Central Alberta: Access Prosperity, it features a stylized maple leaf on a red background as its logo.
Jane Flower, whose Calgary company Indigo Ice developed the brand, said foreign business leaders, trade commissioners and advisers, and foreign-owned entities were consulted. This revealed that foreign investors have some familiarity with Canada but not Central Alberta.
Accordingly, the brand’s designers had a clean slate when highlighting the attributes of this region, said Flower.
These include Central Alberta’s strategic location between Edmonton and Calgary, market access to more than 15 million people in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, proximity to two international airports, two major colleges that have helped develop a skilled labour force and help businesses with their training needs, and a pro-business environment.
Access to markets, access to talent and access to success were catchlines chosen for the brand, said Flower, with these offering foreign investors access to prosperity.
The maple leaf and colour red are received positively outside of Canada, she said, and reinforce that Central Alberta is part of Canada. The maple leaf’s sweeping stem represents Hwy 2 and coveys motion and foreign movement.
“The net desired impression is that Central Alberta is open for business.”
The brand has already been used at international trade shows, said Flower, with a brochure, stationery, a fact sheet, a direct mail postcard and a trade show booth all developed around it. A website is also being developed at www.accessprosperity.ca.
Erin Gates, an economic development specialist with RDRED, announced at the same news conference the development of an international ambassadors program to encourage foreign direct investment.
“To support the attraction of international investment, a network is going to be created to actively engage in industry groups on one-on-ones with prospective investors in order to encourage the establishment of growth and new business in Central Alberta,” she said.
The program is open to Central Alberta business leaders “who are actively involved in international commerce, trade shows or building their import-export business,” said Gates, with those seeking information about international and emerging markets also welcome to take part. They’ll have the chance to network, be exposed to business development opportunities, and will also gain access to international information and experts, meetings and workshops, she said.
Scott Wakefield, manager of Finning Canada’s plan in Red Deer, stressed the value of such a program.
“The international ambassadors have the potential to build the trust necessary to attract more businesses to the region,” he said. “More businesses mean more people, and people fuel our economy.”
He said his own experiences have shown him that prospective foreign investors want to interact with their counterparts here.
“They want to know from the businesses in Red Deer what Red Deer is all about.”
Central Alberta companies can benefit from business leads, having supply chain gaps filled, seeing local industries advance, and gaining new opportunities for ventures and partnerships with international businesses, said Wakefield.
RDRED and CAEP’s foreign direct investment project is a three-year initiative that started in 2008 with a “gap analysis” to determine where foreign direct investment is most needed here, said Gates. Manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and agri-food were the areas identified.
Last year, a list of 157 “qualified leads” was developed, she said, and now decision-makers with those companies are being interviewed to assess their needs and potential for this region.