Red Deer’s economic development officer delivered an upbeat assessment of the region’s prospects during a presentation on Wednesday.
Cyril Cooper was speaking on behalf of Red Deer Regional Economic Development (RDRED) — a partnership involving the city, Red Deer County, the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce and Red Deer College — at a Chamber luncheon.
Cooper described how growth in city and county building permit numbers is a positive indicator of the region’s economic health. Also encouraging, he said, were the results of a Canadian Federation of Independent Business study that found a high level of optimism among local business owners. The ratio of small and medium-sized businesses to people in Red Deer was the highest in Canada, he added
Cooper pointed to the strong performance of Alberta last year, with GDP growth at four per cent. The figure is expected to reach 3.9 per cent this year and 3.8 per cent in 2013.
Cooper listed a number of industrial, commercial and residential developments in the region that reflect local economic health. And he described the five pillars of RDRED’s strategy: labour attraction, development and retention; investment attraction; business retention, expansion and investment; communication and marketing; and engagement of key stakeholders and partnerships.
In the case of labour attraction, development and retention, Cooper talked about how RDRED is working with others on initiatives like a virtual recruitment job fair and domestic recruitment missions.
Referring to investment attraction, he noted that a trade delegation from Russia visited the city in November, confirmed that RDRED is again investing in the KPMG Competitive Alternatives study that compares business costs in cities across Canada and around the world, and said RDRED will continue to collaborate with the Central Alberta: Access Prosperity in attracting foreign direct investment to the region.
Projects related to business retention, expansion and investment include working with communities in the area to promote business development, and staging a business challenge through which post-secondary students can submit business plans for a chance to win $20,000 and other support.
Among the communication and marketing efforts is an agreement to have the Red Deer region profiled on the American television show Profiles, said Cooper.