June 24th, 2024

Horner highlights UCP’s rural economic growth strategy

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 22, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The provincial government recently announced a five-year plan to drive economic growth to rural Alberta, while also addressing the challenges faced by rural communities.

During an interview with the Herald, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Nate Horner said the economic development in rural Alberta plan took them around a year to put together.

“It’s going to be a five-year plan and strategy over the next five fiscal year that is going to tie a bunch of ongoing and future initiatives to support economic development in rural Alberta together, and make sure that within the provincial government ministries are communicating and collaborating, but also make sure that different levels of government are doing the same,” said Horner.

He said the plan focuses on five key strategic directions, with the first strategic direction being identifying and improving economic development-enabling infrastructure to support investment and growth in rural Alberta.

“We can point to the irrigation infrastructure that’s ongoing, Highway 3 twinning for example,” said Horner.

He said the second direction is rural Alberta business support and entrepreneurship.

“Things like grants through the Canadian AG partnership, things like additions to the rural stream for the investment growth fund,” said Horner.

He said the third direction is to support the labour force and skills development.

“That’s part of our job strategy and multi-ministry approach to ensuring that people have the correct skills going forward for today and tomorrow’s rural economy,” said Horner.

He said the fourth direction is marketing and promoting rural tourism.

“Things like the film and television tax credit, ensuring that we get as much as we can in the whole province, not just in Canmore, Banff and Jasper,” said Horner.

He said the fifth direction is rural economic development capacity building.

“Whether that’s our investment and growth strategy in agri-food, our expansion of the seats into the U of C grad school or things like that,” said Horner.

He said something worth noting about the plan is that it will be monitored, measurable and they will be able to see how each region is doing in different sectors.

“We’ll have annual reports, an interim report and a final impact assessment. Hopefully we not only see improvement, but great improvement and we can keep it going,” said Horner.

The full plan can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/rural-economic-development.aspx

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