By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Lethbridge County has launched a public participation survey and is seeking input on the future of the County’s local economy.
Feedback collected from residents and business owners will inform the creation of the County’s new Economic Development Strategic plan. The multi-year Economic Development Strategic Plan will provide direction and guidance on various activities related to economic development in the County.
Reeve of Lethbridge County, Tory Campbell said public consultation in drafting this strategy, “is absolutely essential.”
“We want to ensure that the strategy reflects the needs of our residents and businesses, aligning with their vision for a prosperous county.”
Currently Lethbridge County does not have a formalized economic development strategy in place providing a framework for activities and initiatives, although the County has leaned on their Strategic Plan to help guide decisions. Campbell said, “having a plan that outlines specific economic priorities will allow us to be better positioned to address future challenges, identify areas of opportunity, and remain competitive.” The plan will also inform council and administration on important issues such as land use planning and infrastructure requirements.
Campbell said the strategy will facilitate growth, while also attracting new investment to its commercial/industrial and agri-food sectors, supporting job creation and strengthening the tax base.
“Lethbridge County is the highest revenue-producing agricultural community in Alberta, reflecting well on our economic position. However, we know that having a diversity of businesses is essential to the sustainability of any economy and provides stability during uncertain times.”
Although the global economic landscape has shifted through disruption and changes, particularly with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lethbridge County remains competitive with ample opportunity for continued growth and prosperity.
“A number of operations have expanded, and the recent announcement of McCain Foods’ $600 million investment into their Lethbridge County facility was welcome news,” noting that the County has also experienced an uptake in agri-food processing; “a trend that we hope will continue,” Campbell said.
The confidential seven-question survey seeks input on what makes Lethbridge County an attractive place to conduct business, as well as the challenges, and what stakeholders see as opportunities to attract and retain business to continue fostering economic growth in the municipality. In addition to various questions seeking specific input on ways to encourage sustained investment and growth in the local economy, the survey also provides respondents the opportunity to give suggestions for how to ensure Lethbridge County is “best prepared to adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
The survey is now live on https://whatshappening.lethcounty.ca/ and will remain open until Aug. 15. Surveys can also be completed in person at the administration office at #100, 905 4 Avenue South in Lethbridge. Once the survey closes, the County will also facilitate focus groups for interested stakeholders to engage further and provide additional input on Aug. 16 and 17. The draft Economic Development Strategy is expected to be completed before the end of 2023.