Economic Development Association plans growth strategies amid recession

As the economic downturn continues to put a strain on industry growth the Leduc Nisku Economic...

As the economic downturn continues to put a strain on industry growth the Leduc Nisku Economic Development Association EDA continues with its three-year plan and adapts to the new challenges businesses face.

The EDA made a presentation to Leduc County council during its Oct. 25 meeting, requesting a 2017 budget contribution of $335,000. “We’re holding that funding request at the 2016 level,” said board chair Kristina Dembinski. The request will be considered during council’s 2017 budget deliberations.

“As you consider your budgets for 2017 know that life in municipalities and the businesses that we serve, we acknowledge and understand that everyone needs to control costs, do more with less and be strategic with our expenditures.We at the EDA are doing the same and have made significant efforts to implement cost reduction measures, such as moving to a smaller same,” said Dembinski.

She added the EDA will continue to support the region by focusing on business development and attraction, in 2017.

The 2015 to 2017 strategic plan includes three main goals of the EDA: building capacity and ensuring organizational sustainability, strengthening collaborations and regional partnerships, and stimulating economic development withing the region.

The organization states there was a 13 per cent vacancy rate in the Nisku Business Park and 50 per cent underutilized space in the Leduc and Nisku business parks during the summer.

“However, there are still opportunities,” said Barbara McKenzie, executive director. She says businesses need to focus on new, innovative technology and models, and adopt a “lower for longer” mindset.

In order to strengthen economic development for the region the EDA is creating tailored strategies to align changing priorities and maintaining communications with already located and potential business or investment ventures.

McKenzie says the organization is pleased with the advances it has made this year. “We’re well over our targets this year and quite proud.”

Under investment attraction the organization engaged with 56 companies regarding location opportunities and joint ventures; two new businesses have been located in the Nisku Business Park.

In mid-November the EDA is taking part in a China Trade Mission. “It’s a significant investment attraction hosted by the Government of Alberta,” said McKenzie.

“Over 80 Alberta companies and economic development associations will be meeting with over 300 Chinese representatives to look at investment opportunities across the board,” she added.

A Netherlands Trade Delegation, a Japan Aerospace Tradeshow and an Ottawa Government Relations Mission were also highlighted during the presentation as still to come this year.

In 2017, investment attraction will be focused on agribusiness, energy, manufacturing and aerotropolis activation.