Central Alberta Economic Partnership offers training to help communities maintain, grow economies

Vital to any community’s health is its businesses and training provided through the Central Alberta Economic Partnership aims to help area political leaders strengthen their local economy.

CAEP’s annual general meeting was held Wednesday in Red Deer. As part of it, elected political leaders in CAEP received all-day economic development training from Natalie Gibson, Innovisions and Associates president and an economic development expert with the economic developers of Alberta.

“One of the key components of attracting and keeping businesses is being investment ready,” said Gibson. “Having bylaws and plans in place that are pro-business, do you have resources for them to use, do you have a labour force, do you have the ability to be collaborative with businesses?”

Gibson said there are two clients elected officials have, residents and businesses.

The goal of the course is to get the officials to think of how they keep businesses, how they attract new ones, and how to increase investment.

Kimberley Worthington, CAEP executive director, said the organization is working on a regional business retention plan, asking area businesses what challenges they face. She said the biggest factor facing local business was current economic conditions. Other areas of concern were government processes and labour.

CAEP is a partnership of cities, towns, villages, counties and First Nations in Central Alberta stretching from Wetaskiwin to Didsbury and Caroline to Big Valley. It will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2018.

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