Calgary's International Avenue businesses get $300K boost

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Calgary's International Avenue businesses get $300K boost

Calgary's International Avenue businesses get $300K boost

Small businesses along Calgary's 17th Avenue S.E. — also known as International Avenue for its diverse mix of stores and restaurants — are getting a $300,000 boost from the provincial government.

The money will help the community develop an economic strategy, create a promotional image campaign and enhance its summertime Emerge Market.

Some of the funds will also help foster entrepreneurship, said Alison Karim-McSwiney, executive director of the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ).

She said there's a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in the area but that people need some innovative funding and ways to connect to other businesses.

"We're looking at providing co-working space for connecting entrepreneurs, artists, makers and social innovators with a view of creating new businesses," she said. 

The provincial funding will go toward a third phase of an initiative known as The Heart of the New East Community Economic Development Project. Previous phases were funded by the City of Calgary.

This third phase will coincide with infrastructure projects planned for the area, including a new bus-rapid transit route.

Roughly 425 businesses operate in the International Avenue BRZ.

"There's well over 500 home-based businesses in this area, as well, and we'd like to help them grow out of their homes," Karim-McSwiney said.

A study of the area found most business have been in operation for at least eight years, she added.

"With this level of success, we hope to continue to build on this for many years to come."

The provincial funding comes under the Community and Regional Economic Support Program.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci said the program is meant "to help communities with common interests but limited resources tackle economic development projects that they might not be able to on their own."

The province is currently accepting a second wave of applications for the program. More information can be found at jobsplan.alberta.ca.