Reps aim to lure business North

Speed-dating for businesses?

Speed-dating for businesses?

That description is as good as any for Futurallia, a business development forum that arranges for reps of companies from around the world to meet face to face in 30-minute intervals.

At this year’s event, which takes place May 18 to 20 in Kansas City, Mo., Central Albertans will be among those shaking hands and exchanging business cards. That’s because Red Deer Regional Economic Development and Central Alberta Economic Partnership — which have been promoting the region under the Central Alberta: Access Prosperity brand — will lead a local delegation there.

Danielle Klooster, manager of policy, advocacy and communications with the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, described the initiative to a handful of local businesses on Tuesday. She explained after her presentation that Futurallia 2011 is expected to attract 800 businesses from 30 countries. Each will participate in 20 meetings, with these arranged on the basis of the business’s needs or interests.

Those taking part could meet prospective suppliers or buyers, she said, or perhaps joint venture or strategic alliance partners. They might gain access to technology transfers, licensing arrangements or distributorships, added Klooster.

“Even if you’re a commercial realtor and you have land that you want companies to come and develop.

“The possibilities for how businesses can do business together are endless.”

The Central Alberta delegation will be joined by companies from Calgary and Edmonton, said Klooster. They’ll exhibit together at a Futurallia trade show and plan to host an Alberta reception.

The Albertans will also have the opportunity to take part in a pre-conference trade mission, through which they’ll meet and tour the facilities of Missouri agri-food and agri-processing companies.

Tuesday’s session was attended by a marketing company, an agricultural company, a commercial realtor and a strategic business development specialist, said Klooster. She said several other businesses have already expressed interest in attending Futurallia, and the goal is to take at least 10.

Klooster is familiar with the Futurallia model, having represented Central Alberta at Centrallia — a Canadian version of Futurallia — in Winnipeg last fall. She operated a booth at the trade show there and met 14 companies with the potential for investment in Western Canada.

Networking took place everywhere, she marvelled.

“At lunches you’re doing that, during the breaks you’re doing that,” said Klooster, adding that introductions even occurred in hotel lobbies and on buses.

Businesses interested in joining the Alberta delegation to Futurallia are asked to express their intention by March 15, with the registration deadline a month later. Those wishing to take part in the Missouri trade mission must make a firm commitment by March 18.

For further information, contact Erin Gates, an economic development specialist with Red Deer Regional Economic Development, at 403-356-4864.