Guest speaker Lars Hallstrom, Director of the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities and Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, speaks to the crowd gathered at the BRAED meet ‘n greet on November 7, 2013.
The Battle River Alliance for Economic Development (BRAED) hosted it’s annual meet ‘n greet in Hardisty on Thursday, November 7. The meeting was a chance to express appreciation to supportive volunteers and communities and to speak to upcoming initiatives for the Alliance.
The meet ‘n greet highlighted the accomplishments of community business with the BRAED Longstanding Small Business Awards.
Winners of the award were:
Flagstaff County – The Community Press
Wainwright – Gibson’s Home Hardware
Tofield – Thor Agencies
Viking – Hammer’s Gravel Supplies Ltd.
Sedgewick – Wild Rose Co-op
Killam – Killam Electric
Alliance – Alliance Seed Cleaning Plant
Ryley – George’s Harness and Saddlery
The awards were offered with the new approach of giving communities the autonomy to choose their own recipients.
“This year we offered financial assistance to communities to have their own award as part of their small business week,” says Executive Director of BRAED Shay Barker, “the [winning] businesses were selected by the communities themselves and BRAED stood back from that.”
For Barker, the timing of the event was advantageous due to the recently concluded Municipal elections.
“The event was a great way to welcome new reps and start off new four year partnerships with communities,” Barker says.
In an effort to expand the scope of the meet ‘n greet, BRAED invited a number of individuals not associated with BRAED membership including MLA’s, partners, community members and parties interested in learning more about the Alliance and it’s initiatives.
“The meet ‘n greet gives people avenue to start talking with each other,” says Barker, “lots of communities are interested so that’s nice to see.”
Guest speaker Lars Hallstrom, Director of the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities and Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, spoke about rural policy and development and how to further build upon the core strengths of smaller, spread out communities.
“[Hallstrom] spoke to assessing our assets in our communities rather than our deficiencies, and how to use assets to improve capacity in rural regions,” Barker explains, “to focus on deficiencies causes more gaps and angst, so [he looked at] ideas on how to proceed with capacity building.”
Barker said in all, the meet ‘n greet was a way to form cohesion between the Alliance and the communities they represent.
“We’ve had a lot of partnerships lately that have come out of projects we’ve done with communities,” she says, “so we wanted to include those individuals [in the event] to say thank you and maintain our partnership into the future.”