Action Plan provides economic pathway for rural Alberta
Premier Jim Prentice releases the Rural Economic Development Action Plan for continued growth and a vibrant rural economy.
The Rural Economic Development Action Plan is a blueprint for future rural economic success. The plan lays out clear strategies and specific actions that build on the strength of Alberta’s rural economy by linking existing resources and organizations, increasing infrastructure capacity, and ultimately growing our provincial economy.
“I hear loud and clear from Albertans how important it is for government, industry and communities to work collaboratively to ensure continued growth for our rural economy. This plan sets out immediate, concrete actions and provides a long-term strategic outline to help meet rural Alberta’s unique economic needs.”
“We want to further advance economic development in rural Alberta. This Action Plan focuses on five key areas that resonate with our stakeholders and provides direct strategies and actions that will help give rural businesses the tools to build their own success.”
“Alberta is a great place to be a rural entrepreneur. My grandparents knew it. My aunts knew it. And now I’m experiencing firsthand the abundant natural resources, economic supports and strong communities that help us grow and sustain our business.”
The Action Plan’s five key themes
- Industry and business development
- Financial and capital access
- Attraction, retention and entrepreneurial development
- Rural business infrastructure capacity
- Regional and cross-regional collaboration
As part of the immediate first steps to implement the Action Plan, government is doubling funding for the Agriculture Opportunity Fund (AOF). The AOF program now has a $3.5 million budget to support industry and business development. The additional funding comes from the Agriculture and Food Innovation Endowment which is designed to promote sustainability in the agricultural industry through applied research.
Changes to the Feeder Association Loan Guarantee Program, which came into force this summer, will double the maximum individual loan limit to $1 million. This provides cattle feeders and new entrants with greater flexibility and access to capital in response to higher market prices.
The Rural Economic Development Task Force held a series of consultations with more than 200 stakeholders in eight rural communities across the province this past spring. In these sessions, the participants discussed priorities, identified opportunities for growth and job creation, and looked for ways to better coordinate current programs and services to enhance rural economic development.
With an economic footprint estimated at more than $77 billion each year, rural Alberta is an important economic driver and a critical component of the Alberta’s Economic Development Framework.