Up to $30 million is being made available to rural businesses and economic development groups to help spur the economy.
The province is freeing up the money as a part of the Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program, for projects that will create jobs, diversify the economy, and help entrepreneurs get on their feet.
Chair of the Palliser Economic Partnership, Jay Slemp, says communities can get together and apply for the funds if their idea will help local business.
“Examples of that would be things like trying to get higher broadband speeds. Could we do that regionally? How deep can we get that out to rural communities?”
Cooperation is a big part of what the government wants to focus on, confirms Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous.
“How can we strengthen this region to make it more competitive, to encourage businesses from the ground up, but also to attract investment dollars. This is essentially that seed funding, or funding to be able to help communities come together.”
The benefit of a program like this is that organizations can come up with ideas, and then ask for the funding to make them happen.
“It’s not a top down thing, it’s a bottom-up kind of a program, and I think that’s a positive,” says Slemp.
The money will be there for two years, with $750,000 of it to go specifically to business recovery in the Wood Buffalo region. (kdr)