A local economic development organization that had reached the end of its three-year mandate has been given a new lease on life.
Central Alberta: Access Prosperity, which was created in 2011 with $1.2 million from the province’s Rural Alberta Development Fund, will continue to support local businesses, attract foreign investment and promote business-to-business relationships, said Red Deer County manager Curtis Herzberg.
“It’s definitely worthwhile to continue on.”
Red Deer County applied for the organization’s original funding on behalf of Red Deer Regional Economic Development — an alliance involving the county, the City of Red Deer, the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce and Red Deer College — and Central Alberta Economic Partnership. During the past three years, Access Prosperity has led trade missions and brought in delegations of prospective investors and business partners.
Its achievements were highlighted at a Chamber luncheon on Wednesday by Matt Cornall, an investment attraction officer with the organization. He placed its economic impact at more than $10 million.
Several businesses have set up shop in Central Alberta as a result of Access Prosperity’s efforts, including Upstream Downstream Specialized Services Inc. (UDSS) and Industrial Filter Manufacturing Ltd.
“Our philosophy is always around trying to find markets and investors that have a logical fit into what we have to offer here in our region, and then kind of rolling out the red carpet and making people aware of what we know — which is that Central Alberta is an amazing place to live and do business,” said Cornall.
Danielle Klooster, a former business retention, expansion and investment officer with Access Prosperity and now UDSS’s business development manager for Canada, described in a video how Access Prosperity helped convince officials with the Florida-based energy consulting business to locate an office in Red Deer. And George Van Campen, operations manager with Alberta Flares Energy Services Ltd. of Ponoka, related how Access Prosperity has helped his company connect with local and international resources and business opportunities.
Herzberg said the organization has provided a vehicle through which the county and its counterparts can work together for the betterment of the region.
“For me, as a county manager, that is as important a piece as any of it is, because in order to be able to have those conversations on that larger scale, we need to set aside our own personal agendas and inter-municipal boundary issues and just work together for the region.”
Herzberg said Access Prosperity will now receive funding from its founding organizations, as well as human resources and other support. He also anticipates that it will seek provincial money for specific initiatives.
“They’ve been very supportive of our work,” he said of the Alberta government. “We have some good leads on some other possible programs.”
Teresa Woo-Paw, associate minister with Alberta International and Intergovernmental Relations, acknowledged during Wednesday’s luncheon that Access Prosperity has been a valuable ally for her department.
“Central Alberta: Access Prosperity has been incredibly helpful in many activities that we have undertaken.”
Access Prosperity currently has two full-time employees, as well as contract staff.
Cornall confirmed that new projects are already in the works, including missions and inbound delegations.