Innovation Centres celebrated in Forestburg and Castor

From the left: Jennifer Ness, Forestburg Mayor Blaise Young, and Kristy Jackson smile as Young cuts the ribbon, signalling the official opening of the BRIC in Forestburg. ECA Review/Jody Pettigrew

The Battle River Economic Opportunities Committee (BREOC) held grand openings of two Battle River Innovation Centres (BRIC) at Forestburg and Castor on Fri. April 26.

The centres are intended to be a community catalyst to change, innovation and progress by offering employment support services, programs and resources for entrepreneurs and modern workspaces that can be rented for various purposes.

Kara Spady, coordinator of the Castor location, welcomed everyone as she explained the services offered at the BRIC Centres.

“We want to be a one-stop shop so people can come to our centres instead of having to travel to Red Deer, Camrose or Wainwright.”

Both centres were designed to mirror each other and offer the same services to the public. Through technology at the centres, both locations are connected by video conferencing for the event.

Forestburg Mayor Blaise Young acknowledged that the Centre is located on Treaty 6 Territory, traditional lands of First Nations and Metis people, before speaking at the event.

“Adversity brings out the best of the people in rural Alberta” and is thankful that through BREOC they “were able to organize and move forward to lift the doom and gloom.”

Young continued, “I look forward to these centres being a bright part of our future; being an asset in our community and a catalyst for change.”

BREOC is a collaborative partnership representing the villages of Forestburg, Halkirk, Heisler, the towns of Castor and Coronation, and Flagstaff and Paintearth Counties who are acting as the managing partner.

This committee was formed in response to economic changes in the region to find strategies to encourage economic diversification by building capacity and developing opportunities.

BREOC received $1.75 million last year from the Alberta Government’s Coal Communities Transition Fund (CCTF) to implement transition efforts, working closely with the government, Westmoreland Mine and ATCO’s Battle River Generating Station with a plan developed by Urban Systems/Lochaven Management Consultants to mitigate the impacts of current economic uncertainties.

Collaborative efforts are being made by BREOC to work closely with ATCO’s Battle River Generating Station and Westmoreland Mine to implement strategies that will mitigate some of the economic impacts as the phase-out of coal mines and coal-fired power plants continue.

An emphasis on regional participation will be an important factor in the success of these efforts.


Jody Pettigrew

ECA Review

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