Red Deer County has prepared a road map to lead it towards what it anticipates will be a bright economic future.
Council adopted in principle on Tuesday a new economic development strategy, the first such plan since 2005.
The strategy offers a number of recommendations to boost the county’s economy broken down into four strategic objectives: entrepreneurship and innovation, strengthening partnerships, industry and commerce and location logistics.
Mayor Jim Wood said the county got lots of input from residents and businesses in putting together the strategy, which has been in the works since last March.
The plan that was developed will unfold over a number of years, he said.
“This is a strategy where everything can’t be done all at one time,” he said. “It’s a strategy that will allow us to take a look at various areas of focus and be able to take Red Deer County forward into the next quite a few years.”
Partnering with other municipalities and their economic development staff is just one of many recommendations focused on taking a collaborative and regional approach to promoting growth.
Developing a marketing campaign specifically focused on investment in the county is recommended. As well, the county is urged to promote transit and develop affordable housing options suitable for the county’s smaller villages and hamlets.
Other ideas include developing a food tourism program and making efforts to pitch Central Alberta to the film and television industry, which already has a strong presence in Calgary.
Continuing to pursue industrial and commercial development in Gasoline Alley and at Red Deer Airport is also recommended.
Wood said he sees huge potential in the airport to diversify the area economy and created hundreds of new jobs.
The report reinforces the importance of pursuing industrial businesses to both create jobs and wealth, but to also ease the tax burden on residents.
“The report also shows it’s important to be part of bigger things, such as the 2019 Canada Winter Games,” he said.