By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
At a Lethbridge County council meeting held Dec. 15, the county’s Economic Development Officer Martin Ebel submitted an economic development summary report for the period of January 2016 to early December 2016. The report was submitted to council as information.
In 2016, Ebel reported to council, the Lethbridge County region was more insulated from the economic downturn in Alberta, than many other parts of the province.
“But, we still did see a bit of a slow down in terms of activity. Some of the files I’ve been working on in terms of businesses that were interested or actively pursuing things, I didn’t take it off the table but they just kind of went in a holding pattern. We didn’t see maybe the same level of commitment or active engagement I’ve seen in previous years. I think that’s largely attributable to where the province is at economically at this stage of the game,” said Ebel, during his presentation to council.
In regards to business retention and expansion, Ebel stated in his report, he assisted with the transition of a new business to the county in 2016 — Latin Foods Inc.
According to the report, the company will make specialty Latin American soft cheese and will be the third cheese factory to operate within the county.
Ebel stated in the report he also continued working in 2016 with other members of the Community Services department and the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC) to identify suitable areas or future commercial/industrial/agricultural processing expansion, and began exploring possibilities for combined commercial/industrial/agricultural projects with the Town of Coaldale and the Town of Coalhurst. Ebel stated in the report the project is ongoing.
According to the report, Ebel stated he facilitated letter requests from one existing and one potential new business for the county.
He stated in the report these were requests for county support/endorsement of plans to continue to grow/develop their businesses.
Both businesses (if successful) would bring new crops and new technology to southern Alberta in agricultural and bio-industrial sectors, he stated in his report to council.
In regards to networking and relationship building, Ebel stated in the report, in 2016 he continued to be involved in the county’s international promotional and relationship building efforts.
He assisted with the visit of two Chinese delegations to the Lethbridge area, as well as a visit by the honourary consul-general of The Netherlands. The report also stated Ebel is actively working on helping to plan and co-ordinate a visit by a county delegation to Anyang, China in February of this year.