Economic development collaboration in Slave Lake

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

The Town of Slave Lake, Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, and Alberta Labour and Immigration have started collaborating on economic development.

“That’s a big big change culturally,” says Josh Friesen, Lesser Slave Lake Community Futures executive director.

“We’ve worked closely with the town on community events,” says Kimberley Hughes, Slave Lake and District Chamber of Commerce executive director. The new meetings provide opportunities to work together at a different level of economic development, “streamline the process,” and keep the lines of communication open.

The collaboration is “one of the things that is really exciting,” says Leah Jones, Town of Slave Lake economic development officer. “Our ultimate goal is to support business and grow business.”

When Jones arrived, just over three months ago, the chamber, community futures, and Alberta and Immigration were on her list of groups to contact, but they introduced themselves first.

The organizations had been meeting, but the new collaboration “put a little rigor into our conversation,” says Jones. “It feels like this is a very positive move with our partners.”

The group is still in “its infancy,” says Jones. It has met twice so far, but plans to meet monthly in the new year. At which time, it may expand to add more partners. These could include Sawridge First Nation and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River. However, a robust tri-council (town, Sawridge, and M.D.) already exists, so that may be the avenue used to collaborate.

On other fronts, the Chamber is business as usual, but no events, says Hughes.

Community Futures has some online events coming up (Please see ad on Page 7).

Also, Community Futures has received more funds for $40,000 COVID relief business loans, says Friesen. It is similar to CEBA (Canadian Emergency Business Account), but is for small businesses and nonprofits. Any groups or businesses that missed out last time can apply. If 75 per cent is paid back within a certain period, the final 25 per cent is forgiven.

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