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Alberta Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant program

An update to the Alberta Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant program was announced Monday.

• The details are included in the press release below.
• We’ve included a link to the Alberta COVID-19 Regional Status Map to review current public health measures.
Applications for the federal Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy opened on Monday.
•The new CERS is a successor to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) and delivers support to qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19 without the need to claim the assistance through their landlords.
•The new rent subsidy supports businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses.

•News Release: – A New Resource For Investors and Regional Businesses

The partnership of Community Futures Alberta Southwest, Alberta Southwest Regional Economic Development Alliance (Alberta SouthWest) and Community Futures Crowsnest Pass, has launched a new online presence,

The website’s purpose is to serve as a gateway and a catalyst to regional business investment.  The initiative is the second phase of a program which began in 2014 entitled “Bringing Investment Home” which has engaged and received input and support from all 16 municipalities which make up Alberta SouthWest region. is one of several tools that function to build capacity in the region, to diversify the economy, attract investment and expand business opportunities.  The region’s three leading industry sectors, Agriculture, Renewable & Alternative Energy and Tourism, and the growth opportunities that lie within them, are highlighted on the website.

The site is designed to be the first stop for five primary audiences:

  • Investors
  • Site selectors
  • Land developers
  • Businesses seeking Investment to expand, or that hold a business investment opportunity, and
  • Businesses seeking to relocate to the region

According to James Tessier, the Project Coordinator, “the features and functionality of the site are designed with these audiences in mind. The resources on the site will also be an additional tool for municipalities and economic development officers to utilize when attracting investment to their communities”.

This website, which is enhanced by downloadable pdf content, builds upon the identified need to improve access to accurate information about southwest Alberta’s identified economic growth and investment opportunities. 

The site targets six topics to accomplish its mandate:

  • A Regional Profile
  • Community Profiles
  • Industry Profiles (the three leading regional sectors)
  • Qualified Investment Opportunities
  • Regional Business Success Stories, and
  • Resources for Investors and Businesses

Visit or phone 1-800-565-4418.

Southwest Alberta Partnership Wins International Economic Development Award

“Bringing Investment Home” a partnership project between Community Futures Alberta Southwest, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, and Community Futures Crowsnest Pass, received award-winning recognition at the Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI) conference held in Bridgewater Nova Scotia on June 24-26, 2015.

The Alberta SouthWest partnership received one of two awards presented at the conference that recognized project excellence and community impact. The city of Wellington Ontario won for a BREI project for a population of over 50,000 and the Alberta Southwest partnership won for a project with population under 50,000. Natalie Gibson, President of InnoVisions and Associates, who worked with the southwest Alberta communities, travelled to Nova Scotia to make a presentation about the Alberta project and to accept the award on behalf of the partnership.

“This was an interactive and participatory project, and the success is attributed to our businesses and municipal leaders who provided a lot of energy, support and ideas to make this a success,” says Bev Thornton, Executive Director of Alberta SouthWest Regional Economic Development Alliance.

The project developed innovative approaches to investment attraction and results greatly exceeded expectations.

  • It is estimated that the year-long project generated and supported about $7M of new and expanded business investment in the region;
  • 79 business consultation visits were conducted resulting in 105 referrals and action items for business and organizations;
  • 20 businesses were identified as having potential for foreign direct investment;
  • 39 consultation visits were held with municipalities to identify unique priorities of each community, define community assets, gaps, opportunities and roadblocks that affect investment attraction;
  • 50 business success stories are identified for inclusion in future marketing of regional opportunities;
  • Leading investment opportunity sectors are identified, as well as key challenges and assets

James Tessier, Project Manager for the initiative, acknowledges it was the strength of the collaborative partnership that led to the project’s success. “Each organization brought their skills and resources to the table leveraging their knowledge and their networks to make this project work”. 

According to Tessier, “Tremendous stakeholder engagement throughout the region was realized with the participation of forty-six representatives from municipal government, business and economic organizations committing time to the project, learning new skills to assist their community, and providing valuable input to move the project forward. The business consultations were a success and matchmaking opportunities were identified, many of which are ongoing as the project now enters its second year”.

Successful Southwest Alberta Partnership Merits two Prominent Provincial Awards from Economic Developers Alberta

April 9, 2015

Economic Developers Association of Alberta (EDA) Conference, Kananaskis, Alberta

A partnership between, Alberta Southwest Regional Alliance, Community Futures Alberta Southwest and Community Futures Crowsnest Pass was recognized twice by EDA for their 2014 “Bringing Investment Home” project in the category of Business Investment and Attraction.  InnoVisions and Associates worked with the community partners to achieve the excellent results.

Bringing Home Investment 2014 was recognized for its success as a multi-stakeholder project which achieved measurable positive outcomes in community engagement and capacity-building.  It saw a financial investment of $100,000 generate regional business opportunities worth approximately $7,000,000.

The two awards presented to the partner organizations were the 2015 Business and Investment Attraction (BIA) Award for a medium community/region (population from 25,001–100,000), and the 2015 Alex Metcalfe Award which recognizes the top nominee in each of the three award categories for their superior performance and contribution to economic development in economic development in Alberta over the past year. The Alex Metcalfe Award recognizes the "best of the best", the award recipients are those that exhibit excellence in their category.

Some key successes of the project include:

  • Engaging a broad cross-section of community participants, thus building community leadership capacity;
  • Supporting networking and problem-solving with economic development professionals in the region;
  • Meeting with individual businesses to understand needs, research options, provide resources and referrals;
  • Matching businesses with investment opportunities.
  • Utilizing expert business consultants, InnoVisions & Associates as a resource to businesses, very effectively creating a “conduit” for information-sharing, needs identification and immediate access to resources and solutions.

James Tessier, Project Manager for the initiative, acknowledges it was the strength of the collaborative partnership that led to the project’s success. “Each organization brought their skills and resources to the table leveraging their knowledge and their networks to make this project work”.  “The project resulted in big wins by providing value and benefit to business and increasing the economic development capacity and the community and the regional level”.

Bev Thornton, Executive Director of AlbertaSW REDA agrees, and also sends a “thank you” to the Chambers, businesses, and municipal representatives who participated. “Such strong volunteer engagement is of incalculable value and represents a critical success factor in this initiative. It took the entire region to make this an award-winning effort.”

According to Tessier, “tremendous stakeholder engagement throughout the region was realized with the participation of forty-six representatives from municipal government, business and economic organizations committing time to the project, learning new skills to assist their community, and providing valuable input to move the project forward.  The business consultations were a success and matchmaking opportunities were identified, many of which are ongoing as the project now enters its second year”.

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Summer Camp Profitable for Young Entrepreneurs



About 60 young people aged 13 to 15 years attended the Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Camp.

Four Fort Macleod youths were all business during a summer camp at Eagle’s Nest Ranch in the Cypress Hills.  Rebecca Runions, Aby Wolff and Marissa Medema were campers and Holly Bergo was a leader at the Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Camp.

Community Futures runs the camp, where about 60 young people aged 13 to 15 years receive instruction on business concepts and work in teams to make and sell a product.

Fourteen-year-old Rebecca, who s in Grade 9 at F.P. Walshe school, was part of the group that earned the biggest profit and won the Miss Entrepreneur award for best all-around camper.  Holly, who graduated last June from F.P. Walshe school, received two outstanding youth volunteer awards.

The campers were divided into 10 business teams to decide upon a business name and a product.  Each team had to develop a business plan that included the cost of supplies to make the product and the price for which it would be sold.  The teams present their business plans to people from banks in Medicine Hat and make their case for a loan.  Once the loan is approved one person from each team goes into Medicine Hat and buys the supplies. For the remainder of camp, teams assemble their products.

Entrepreneurs attend the camp to speak to the young people about business topics ranging from cash flow to customer service. 

The final day of camp is Business Day, on which each team displays their products on a table.  Parents, friends and people from Medicine Hat visit Eagle’s Nest Ranch to shop.  Businesses have two hours to sell all their stock, using the money they make to repay the loan and sharing any profit.

Rebecca’s team formed a business called Entreé-preneur and made cookbooks filled with the campers’ favourite recipes. The team also sold premixed brownies.  Entreé-preneur sold almost all their product, paid back their loan and each member received $60.

“I thought that AYEC was a great way to learn the basics of business, but also an amazing place to meet new people from all over Alberta and Saskatchewan,” said Rebecca, who was attending camp for the second year. “By the end of the week, everyone was so close that it was hard to leave. I plan on going back as a camper next year, and hopefully the year after that as a youth leader.”

Aby Wolff’s team Wonder Works decided their business would make bags out of T-shirts, presented the idea to a banker and got a loan of $1,050 to buy supplies.  “We planned on using the shirts from past years of the camp and had to barter with the camp director a fair price to purchase them all,” 14-year-old Aby said. “We made a couple different designs and sewed them ourselves.”

At the wind-up fair on the last day of camp Aby’s group advertised and sold their product, making enough money to pay back the loan and shared a small profit.  “My favourite part of camp was meeting new people and making new friends,” said Aby, who is in Grade 9 at F.P. Walshe School. “I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and I have a lot of ideas, now that I’ve attended AYEC I know how to do it.”

Like each of the other groups, Marissa’s team Mini Mines had to decide on a product, a business name, and had to make a business plan and projected cash flow.  “Then we talked to actual bankers and got a loan from them,” 14-year-old Marissa said. “One person from the group had to go shopping in Medicine Hat to get the supplies.”

Marissa’s group made bracelets, keychains, and necklaces out of “shrinky-dink” — a kind of plastic that shrinks when you put it in the oven — and sold floats.  Marissa’s group, who named their business Mini Mines, sold most of their product and paid back the loan.  Each of the campers earned about $16 after expenses and paying back the loan.  “I thought it was a great experience,” said Marissa who is in Grade 9 at F.P. Walshe School. “I learned a lot.”

In addition to their lessons about business and being an entrepreneur, the campers took part in other activities such as paintball, rock climbing, swimming and games.  They also took part in a talent show and dance at the end of the camp.

Community Futures Alberta Southwest Has Money to Lend

Rob Vogt

Special to The Macleod Gazette

May 28, 2014


Small businesses can receive assistance in a variety of ways from Community Futures Alberta Southwest (CFABSW).  The MD of Willow Creek learned more about [the organization and its programs] when Community Futures Alberta Southwest General Manager Tony Walker appeared as a delegation to the MD of Willow Creek Council meeting.

Community Futures is a federally-funded program started in 1992 as the Southwest Alberta Business Development Institute.  It changed its name to Community Futures Alberta Southwest in 2007. 

Community Futures Alberta Southwest is a non-profit organization guided by a volunteer board of directors.  The MD of Willow Creek is represented by David Mullholland.

There are 27 Community Futures offices in Alberta.  Each office receives an annual operating budget of $300,000 from the federal government.  CFABSW has a 3.5-million dollar loan portfolio, with $1-million loaned out and $2.5-million ready to loan.

It is a business centre that makes loans up to $150,000 to individuals interested in stating, expanding or purchasing a business.  CFABSW is a business development centre that provides business training, counselling, and coaching to individuals interested in starting a business. 

Community Futures can also offer loans to businesses turned down by traditional lenders; and work creatively with financial institutions on joint financing.

The services offered by CFABSW are: individualized one-on-one counselling; ongoing coaching and mentoring; access to local business expertise through their referral network; a resource library; and regional economic development.

Its partners are Western Economic Development Canada; chambers of commerce; economic development officers and committees; municipal councils; and regional economic development alliances.  From 1995 to 2013 about six percent of its loans went to businesses in the MD of Willow Creek.

Its current programs are: development of a foreign direct investment strategy; the Alberta Youth Entrepreneurship Camp; the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge; a business visitation program; and the GOForth Institute training program.

Municipalities Support "SouthWest Invest" Application

Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance (Alberta Southwest), Community Future Alberta Southwest’s provincial counterpart, is launching a new regional economic development initiative titled “SouthWest Invest”.  CFABSW has been invited to participate in the initiative.  The following excerpt from the Claresholm Local Press describes programs key components.

By: Rob Vogt - Claresholm Local Press, October 23, 2014

Claresholm town council has endorsed an application for a three-pronged economic development program in the region....A resolution [passed by council Oct. 15th authorizes] the Town of Claresholm to participate in an application for the “SouthWest Invest” project, submitted by the Town of Pincher Creek under the provincial government’s regional collaboration program....The application...has three parts.

Wi-Fi expansion and broadband issues identification

  • Build capacity and expand effectiveness of the current wifi wireless Internet network in the region;
  • Research and assess broadband realities and issues, costs and benefits to gain a realistic view and strategy to provide services.

Community readiness and capacity development

  • Review, assess, and evaluate all community websites in relation to regional goals, and create recommendations;
  • Provide support to communities to implement recommendations and improve information sharing;
  • Explore the feasibility and logistics of a media and community partnership to work, land, and opportunity listings.

Investment attraction issues, assets and capacity building

  • Help each community identify its key economic development needs, unique strengths and assets within a regional opportunity strategy;
  • Create stories/videos of key successes and opportunities in each community and the region;
  • Develop print and on-line materials for regional and community opportunity promotion;
  • Conduct success planning/transition awareness training to increase community capacity.

Alberta Southwest is striking a Regional Economic Advice and Liaison team to work on all aspects of this project.  For further information on this initiative contact Bev Thornton at Alberta SouthWest, bev [at], 403-627-3373.


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Get in Touch

Community Futures Alberta Southwest
436 – 24th Street (Macleod Blvd)
Box 1270
Fort Macleod, AB T0L 0Z0

403-553-0264 ext. 222
800-565-4418 ext. 222

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Communities Served

Beaver Mines, 
Chief Mountain, 
Fort Macleod, 
Hill Spring, 
Mountain View, 
Pincher Creek, 
Pincher Station, 
Twin Butte, 


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