Town of Sexsmith mayor took council’s economic development missive to the region recently.
Kate Potter, who spoke at an intermunicipal meeting June 24, delivered her thoughts on Sexsmith’s regional economic development growth strategy.
“The key for our regions success moving forward is collaboration,” she said.
Sexsmith’s project began two years ago, with an aim to partner with neighbouring municipalities including Beaverlodge, Wembley, Hythe, and the City of Grande Prairie, said Potter.
The County of Grande Prairie has been working on its own economic development strategy for some time.
Potter said town administration is currently working on drafting proposals for the strategy to bring to council. She said they most likely won’t be presented until the new council arrives after the October municipal election.
“We're hopeful that by late fall, sort of early winter, we should have some very tangible projects that are moving forward from this study.”
Potter expects to see the county’s report in the coming month. Sexsmith will share its report with the county as well.
“We want to look at economic development as a region because really, so much of what we do is interrelated and really has impacts in other communities.
“When one municipality is growing, that has an impact on the rest of the region; if one is struggling or failing, that has a significant impact as well.”
Potter said that there would be opportunities for the regional communities to create strong relationships to work together with other municipalities to benefit all.
“Over the summer here, we'll come up with some recommendations and really see if we can engage with the municipalities that would like to see a strategy moving forward for regional growth,” said Potter.
She said the growth strategy will look at not only business retention but drawing in new businesses regionally rather than just each individual municipality.
“When we look at supports for businesses, is there some economic development supports that we could institute that are more regionally based rather than an individual municipality,” said Potter. “At the end of the day, that costs more money to do it that way.”
The strategy also looks at the best ways to market the region and the best locations to have certain businesses. For example, Potter explained some municipalities in the region might be better suited to host certain industries.
She said that come the fall, the town will again invite the county to join in any projects as the projects potentially begin to move forward.
“Every municipality has their priorities, and we really want to make sure that that they (County of Grande Prairie) know, from our perspective, that that door is always open for collaboration,” said Potter.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News