Olds partnership idea watched by Lacombe

Lacombe believes an economic development partnership developed in Olds could work in the city as well.

Lacombe believes an economic development partnership developed in Olds could work in the city as well.

A new community economic development plan was recently endorsed by Lacombe city council. Among its goals is to look at establishing an organization along the lines of the Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development.

Formed in 2001, the institute pulled together the Olds Agricultural Society, Olds and District Chamber of Commerce, Olds College, and the town to take a joint approach to economic and community development.

A number of committees were formed to focus on specific areas. For instance, the technology committee was the key to bringing O-Net to Olds, a fibre optic network that provides high-speed broadband to residences and businesses.

Other committees focus on investment attraction, business retention and expansion, community lifestyle, funding development, marketing and communications, and identifying opportunities.

Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie said the Olds example kept coming up as they looked at ways to promote economic development.

“Is it going to be an exact replica? We don’t know yet. But it is one that caught our interest and one that makes sense and one that is obviously successful.”

The economic development plan suggests the city join the chamber of commerce, Canadian University College and Agriculture Financial Services Corp., a Crown corporation with a major presence in the city, as anchor members. They would provide financial support to get the Lacombe version of the institute off the ground.

Lacombe’s economic development plan outlines goals, objectives and proposed actions, as well as identifying outcomes that show initiatives are bearing fruit.

Among the actions to boost a strong and diverse economy is a plan to work with developers to share financing costs, as well as promoting high-density work/live developments, developing a marketing plan and researching business incentives.

Developing community investment funds, supporting home-based businesses and aiding business incubation are other ideas.

Heritage preservation can be improved with a storefront enhancement program and culture could benefit from an arts and culture hub, the plan suggests.

It is also proposed a community housing development corporation be explored and joint initiatives pursued for sustainable housing.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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