It’s understood in the world of economic development the fruit that is taxpayer investment sometimes take a while to ripen, years in fact. But as Town of Stettler council heard at their regular meeting Jan. 4, this municipality seems to be harvesting the benefits of economic development on a quicker and more regular basis.
Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky and Assistant CAO Steven Gerlitz submitted an Economic Development Committee update to council, listing accomplishments and ongoing efforts for the body comprised of town staff, Stettler Regional Board of Trade (BOT) and other partners.
Gerlitz noted as councillors skimmed the timeline the committee has been “very, very busy” since its creation.
He added that the committee made the move to bring in developers one at a time for face to face meetings to discuss their issues as compared to the town’s issues, what helps developers in Stettler and what hinders them.
The developers pointed out there was no quick way of determining what property was currently available in Stettler. To that end Gerlitz noted the town has a section on its website that lists available property and the necessary contact information, which is updated every month. He noted it’s been very effective.
Coun. Scott Pfeiffer stated he feels the body in question is a great committee and pointed out one detail he felt was important, the housing study.
Pfeiffer stated the study showed which housing types Stettler was lacking and that developers may have been attracted by that information.
Coun. Gord Lawlor stated he liked the idea of Stettler working with partners on studies and while he knows the studies are useful, they are also useful for developers when going to banks for financing.
He added it appears some developers are addressing gaps illustrated in the studies.
Coun. Travis Randell noted he was impressed to see so much progress in such a short time and that it’s nice to have tangible results to point to.
Coun. Wayne Smith said he was astonished at how much the committee has accomplished in such a short timeline.
Mayor Sean Nolls stated the committee itself is about identifying gaps and answering questions when something isn’t happening in Stettler.
Gerlitz added that the purpose of the committee isn’t to recruit new businesses for Stettler, but to build an environment in Stettler that encourages business.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter