Indigenous and small communities are vital to Alberta and to the province’s long-term economic prosperity. Recognizing this importance, Alberta’s government released its Economic Development in Rural Alberta Plan in December 2022.

To further implement this plan, Alberta’s government is investing $6 million in the new Small Community Opportunity Program, which will back Indigenous and small communities, helping rural Alberta grow its economic footprint.

“The new Small Community Opportunity Program provides financial backing for Indigenous and small communities to tackle challenges and tap into opportunities to grow their local economic footprint. By building capacity in small businesses and the agriculture industry, these rural communities will have a strong foundation to thrive.”

RJ Sigurdson, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation

For a project to be eligible, it must align with the Economic Development in Rural Alberta Plan and build capacity within the local community in entrepreneurship and mentorship, skills development, small business supports and/or partnerships, interconnectivity and collaboration.

“Alberta's rural communities play a crucial role in our province's economic landscape. The Small Community Opportunity Program is an important part of our commitment to supporting their growth and development. By empowering Indigenous and small communities to address their unique challenges and seize opportunities, we are fostering economic resilience and a brighter future for rural Alberta."

Matt Jones, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade

Non-profit organizations may collaborate with Indigenous and small communities, or communities may work together or independently on projects that drive innovation and achieve sustainable growth and diversification. Projects must be completed within two years and have a measurable impact supporting, improving or enhancing rural and Indigenous communities, local economic development and/or the agriculture industry.

The Small Community Opportunity Program will open for applications on Nov. 10. Albertans can learn more and apply online. Indigenous and small communities, and the non-profit organizations that support them, can apply for grants between $20,000 and $100,000 for local, community-led projects.

Quick facts

  • The Economic Development in Rural Alberta Plan has strategic directions with corresponding initiatives and actions to ensure rural Albertans and Indigenous communities have economic opportunities where they live.
  • Small Community Opportunity Program projects must align with one or more of these strategic directions in the plan:
    • rural business supports and entrepreneurship
    • support for labour force and skills development
    • marketing and promoting rural tourism
    • rural economic development capacity building
  • Applicants must be an incorporated non-profit organization or a rural or Indigenous community based on the characteristics described in the plan:
    • have a population of fewer than 20,000
    • not be near communities larger than 25,000 people that could provide employment and services
    • be a remote community or a community that has within it, or is surrounded by, a significant amount of nature, natural resources, agricultural land and wilderness areas
    • have a workforce largely focused on primary economic activity, including oil and gas, agriculture and forestry
  • The Small Community Opportunity Program is made possible through Budget 2023 and will provide up to $3 million per year in 2023-24 and 2024-25.
  • Albertans can learn more about the Small Community Opportunity Program in webinars hosted by:
    • Rural Municipalities of Alberta, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 15
    • Economic Developers Alberta, from noon to 1 p.m. on Nov. 17
  • Rural and Indigenous communities must consider other government funding programs like the Northern and Regional Economic Develop Program if their project focuses on regional economic development or supports non-capital investments to assess the feasibility of, or to maintain, economic development enabling infrastructure.

Related information