By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
Business retention and expansion continues throughout Lethbridge County, as well as networking, relationship building, communication, promotion and capacity building — according to a quarterly report presented to county council May 7 by Martin Ebel, from the county’s economic development department.
“Despite lower oil prices kind of hovering at the $50 per barrel range, so far in late 2014 and early 2015, I haven’t really experienced any kind of diminishment in economic activity in the number of inquiries coming in or just kind of talking to business owners or business people in the county seeing a downward trend. Again, I think that’s because largely, agriculture is such a big part of our economy here. The oil and gas sector is quite small. We’re just not seeing that direct impact, as of yet,” said Ebel, adding he’s still getting inquiries from businesses interested in locating in the county.
According to the report, Ebel is working with a total of nine potential new county businesses. He’s also excited the Taylor development is moving forward. There’s also a commercial/industrial land inventory report in the works. “Within a month or two we should have our commercial/industrial land inventory report being done in conjunction with ORRSC. That will provide some insights. In anticipation of that, having more land in the county and our commercial/industrial lands through advertising and publications such as Alberta Venture, Invest in Alberta and so forth,” said Ebel.
Another positive development, according to Ebel, is meeting with the heads of the Agricultural Research Station located on Jail Road.
Ebel said ag-tourism in the county is also important for future growth and the diversification of the county’s economy with bio-industrials.
There will be an information session for local producers wanting to tip their toes into the ag-tourism waters during Open Farm Days. The session will be held June 17.
Ebel said there is a lot of work being done in central Alberta with tree fibre, which includes sawdust and bits of bark and there is some bio-industrial action happening in the M.D. of Taber.
A forum on the topic will be held in September and it will be hosted at the Agricultural Research Station. Ebel added ongoing motorsport facility discussions continue but an application for the multi-use facility hasn’t been received by the county, as organizers continue working on it.
Current economic development in the county includes Western Tractor, which will be having its Grand Opening towards the end of July.
In early July, the new Dupont-Pioneer Corn Research Facility will be having a Grand Opening. Dates and details to be announced.
“Those will be nice celebrations to have of new businesses that have located in the county,” said Ebel.