Jessica, Lisa and Nova of the Brooks Region's economic development team are thrilled to share some highlights of 2019. In no particular order, here's what we were up to:
Strategic Plan Established.
The Year began with the establishment of the three-year work plan for the economic development team. This was created after a facilitated strategic planning session with the Joint Services Committee. Three focuses were created, which include: Partnerships & Collaboration, Investment Attraction and Business Retention and Expansion. Goals and initiatives were set for each focus and our team will continue to review the work plan and report progress back to the JS committee. Click here to view the plan.
Our team launched the new Brooks Region brand at the Economic Developers of Alberta conference and the new brand continues to build momentum and success. This has been measured through our interactions with businesses, investors and residents and we find the feedback we receive is consistently positive. This fall, we received a national marketing award from the Economic Developers Alliance of Canada for the development and implementation of the new brand.
Along with the brand, a new website was created and is now the hub of economic development information coming out of the Region. In addition to the website, we began working with a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialist to ensure the website is being positioned effectively and that the appropriate traffic is being directed to the site.
Momentum continued to build with the Southeastern Alberta Energy Diversification (SEEDS) partnership. The SEEDS committee, which we are a part of, hosted an information session at the Heritage Inn. Over 30 people attended to hear from various speakers such as the Medicine Hat College, Elemental Energy and Inphase Electric and Controls. Renewable Energy is an emerging industry in the Brooks Region as there are many projects planned for the area in 2020, primarily solar. Medicine Hat College Brooks Campus is also a recent recipient and the only Canadian institution to receive a $100,000 USD grant to build a solar classroom.
Value Added Agri-Food.
The Brooks Region was included in the ongoing Value Agri-Food projected being conducted by Palliser Economic Partnership (PEP) who received a $100,000 Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) grant. The project will be to develop investment profiles for municipalities in the PEP Region and then identify 20 or more companies to target with the highest potential to locate in the PEP Region. The project will conclude in March 2020.
Tourism Destination Assessment.
With a contribution of $10,000 from the Joint Services Committee, the Newell Regional Tourism Association (NRTA) was awarded grant funding from the Tourism Growth Innovation Fund (TGIF). The funding was used to perform a Regional Destination Assessment which is similar to a feasibility study for value chain analysis. The project was just completed and the NRTA is currently making the results of the study public as it forms the NRTA’s strategic plan.
Business Preparation for National Event.
To assist businesses in preparing for Hockey Canada's National Junior A Championships (NJAC), as well as other events coming through the Region, our team hosted an information session and we had over 80 business representatives attend.
Blade Sign Program.
The Blade Sign program was created to help enhance the appearance of our downtown and high traffic areas. Over 28 applications were received, five were from Duchess and 23 from Brooks. Rosemary created and funded their own program. Due to the budget and program requirements, only 17 business received signs. This project has been allocated more money in the 2020 budget.
We got out there.
Members from our team participated in both the Rural Roots Ag Days and the Global Petroleum Show. Both of these events assisted with marketing the Region and allowed us to connect with those in the industry.
Summer Student - Myra.
We hired our first economic development summer student who worked on various projects including the Marketing Makeover program. The summer student worked with four local businesses for the program and many of them continue to use the photos and videos she supplied them as well as the knowledge she shared with them.
National Hockey Canada Host.
One of the largest highlights of the year was that the Brooks Region hosted Hockey Canada’s National Junior A Championships (NJAC). The economic impact has not yet been released, however, the event itself was extremely successful and responses from the community have been positive.
Energy from Waste.
For the past three years we’ve been working on engaging energy from waste facilities that would be interested in locating in the Brooks Region. One in particular that we worked extensively in 2019 was Cielo Waste Solutions. The hosted their grand opening at their first refinery located in Aldersyde, AB. We continue to pursue and work with companies like Cielo in hopes they’ll choose the Brooks Region.
In the spring, members of our team attended “Social School” to learn more about digital marketing and ways to promote the Region’s new brand and assist with local businesses in marketing. The information was so valuable, we partnered with Community Futures to offer it to our local businesses and organizations and we hosted our very own Social School at the Heritage Inn and Convention Centre.
Started Workforce Development Strategy.
We recently received $15,000 in Labour Market Partnership funding from Alberta Labour and Immigration for the Workforce Development Strategy we’re currently working on. This was a long process after the change in government and we’re looking forward to the results of the project.
Newell Proud Grows.
This fall, our Newell Proud shop local campaign hit a milestone of over 2,000 “likes” on its Facebook page. In the month of October alone, over 24,000 people viewed the page and over 12,000 engaged with the page. The campaign continues to play a positive, supportive role as it continues to bond our local communities.
Finally, NewGrow was another successful program and one of the most talked about programs our team has created. In 2018 and 2019 combined, $82,500 has gone back into our local businesses through the program and injected into the local economy. The businesses who received funding have also benefited from JMH & Co.’s financial and accounting services contribution as well as the business advising services from Community Futures and Business Link.
And that doesn't cover EVERYTHING! We met incredible people and try to work more closely with our business community. Thank you for your support and do not hesitate to contact a member of our team!