Town of Olds withdraws funding from economic development organization

$125,000 in Olds Institute funding to be redirected to town economic development efforts

The Town of Olds is taking over economic development and tourism from a local organization and withdrawing $125,000 in funding.

The Olds Institute for Regional and Community Development was in line for $125,000 — the second instalment of $250,000 in funding approved by town council in its 2020 budget.

“This contribution was approved by council with the intent that progress would be made in regard to the items outlined in a mandate exchanged by the Town of Olds and Olds Institute in late 2018 and early 2019,” says a news release from the town Wednesday.

“Progress on that mandate has not been made to council’s satisfaction.”

A pair of “key” economic development committees, one focused on business attraction, retention and expansion, and the other on physician attraction and retention, were eliminated by the Olds Institute, says the town.

A recent legal decision also made clear that the Olds Institute is an independent organization and the town has only limited authority to set the organization’s direction and mandate.

Meanwhile, the town has been expanding its efforts to co-ordinate economic development by creating an economic development secretariat.

The town also intends to create a new business attraction, retention and expansion committee once pandemic recovery work winds down.

Plans are already underway for a new visitor information centre, which the town hopes to open in early 2021.

The $125,000 that was earmarked for the Olds Institute will go towards the economic development secretariat and an economic recovery task force.

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