Final government funding portion being used for economic business development in East Central Alberta

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The second portion of the Battle- River Economic Opportunities Committee (BREOC) five year funding has come in after the federal government announced last Monday, Sept. 2, it would be allocating $2,739,917.

The Canada Coal Transition Initiative (CCTI) was created in response to imminent climate change worries determined by the provincial and federal government.

“The challenge of climate change requires Canada to transition our economy and, in particular, our energy system to one that is more sustainable. This is why, through Budget 2018, the Government of Canada committed $35 million over five years to support communities affected by the phase out of coal-fired electricity,” stated the news release from the Government of Canada.

This money will be used to support business ecosystem development and hire a full-time transition staff manager.

BREOC chairman George Glazier has found the first two years to be greatly successful in accomplishing its goals of not only coal transition assistance but community economic stability.

The focus to this sustainability came after what was thought to be a massive number of layoffs in the coal industry actually being much lower than expected.

Since there wasn’t as much demand for the coal transition side of the centres, they put more emphasis on economic development and sustainability which has worked in their favour.

“When we first started this we thought there was going to be 60, 70 people all looking for jobs within months but that didn’t happen so [the centres are] for anything,” said Glazier.

Approximately six businesses have started up with the help of the transition centres based in Castor and Forestburg.

“If you wanted to start a business or entrepreneurship, business sustainability if your business is struggling, we can get you in touch with people that can help you restructure it or rethink how you are doing things,” explained Glazier.

Seven municipalities have been working together as they knew the need was great if coal-transition was taking place sooner than expected.

“When we started this initiative, it was always to run it for five years and try to make it so in five years the east centres were sustainable and so this is money to help us for years three, four and five because we got that money for the first two years through the Alberta government,” said Glazier.

The Hanna Learning Centre (HLC) is also receiving $693,500 from the CCTI to establish a business hub and concierge centre for business inquiries and entrepreneurship support.

“Hanna Learning Centre is super excited to be managing this three-year project; to establish a Business HUB and Concierge services for Hanna and area residents,” said HLC executive director, Doray Veno.

“The HUB will bring together several business service providers under one roof and the opportunity for small businesses to work in a cooperative space will have a positive impact on the current business ecosystem. Opening of the Business HUB is planned for this winter.”

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