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Economic minister outlines provincial business supports

Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous brought Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) members up to date with provincial initiatives during a City stop last week.

CAEP, one of 11 Regional Economic Development Alliances across Alberta, held its annual general meeting June 16th.

“First of all let me thank you for proving that regional collaboration is the best way to strengthen our economy. CAEP has been doing incredible work in Central Alberta for almost 20 years,” said Bilous, adding the organization has been key to delivering economic programs across the region.

“I’d also like to commend CAEP for the completion of the Tourism Opportunity Identification Project and Invest Central Alberta,” he said. “These two initiatives will support the efforts of communities and strategic partners when it comes to investment attraction, growth and diversification for the region.”

The Centre for Innovation and Manufacturing at Red Deer College is another example of a program that offers support, he said.

“The Centre has a mandate to engage local companies and organizations to assist in developing a competitive manufacturing advantage in the region,” he said. “We’re also working with the City of Red Deer and the County to expand the local airport. The expansion will create good jobs, attract new business opportunities and help make this region more economically diverse,” he said.

“The airport is a great example of both the County and the City coming together for a shared purpose. What makes me excited about it is that the benefits go far beyond just Red Deer and the County. The expansion of the airport is going to have a significant impact on all communities in Central Alberta.”

Bilous also discussed how the provincial economy has undergone tremendous challenges of late, pointing out how the international price of oil has dropped by more than two-thirds. “As a result, the province has experienced a serious and prolonged shock.

“There’s no question the dramatic drop in the international price of oil is having a significant effect on Alberta families, communities and businesses,” he said, adding that in spite of these challenges - including the wildfires in the Fort McMurray area - Albertans typically show an undeniable resiliency.

Meanwhile, the province is working to come alongside communities, businesses and individuals to bolster economic growth via a number of programs. “While the current economic situation is testing us all, my ministry staff and I are committed to supporting you and are also committed to economic growth and diversification.”

Bilous said there is a division focused on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises. “Secondly we have a trade and investment attraction division that promotes market export development and investment attraction for the products and services that Alberta has to offer.

“Finally, we have a science and innovation division that helps position Alberta on the cutting edge of research, innovation and commercialization,” he said.

“Through these divisions, the ministry provides Alberta businesses and industries with improved access to services and programs which focus on innovation and investment attraction and market development.”

Bilous said there are also a number of initiatives in place to support small businesses.

“More than 95% of all businesses in the province are small businesses - they are the foundations of our towns and neighbourhoods,” he said. “Whether it’s writing a business plan, accessing legal advice, increasing market capacity, hiring expertise on exporting, more than 260 service providers are available to work with Alberta businesses to contribute to their formation, growth and long-term success,” he said. “I know that CAEP has also been very active in providing key supports for businesses in the region.

“Today’s event helps ensure more Albertans know about these services,” he said.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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