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Southern Alberta Ready for Increased Chinese Investment

Staff Writer, MACLEOD GAZETTE | Posted on July 20 2016

A consortium of southern Alberta economic development organizations representing more than 40 municipalities and hundreds of businesses is inviting Chinese business owners and investors to the region in the fall to develop trade relationships.

The four partner groups — Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, Economic Development Lethbridge, Lethbridge County and SouthGrow Regional Initiative — are looking for local and regional partners to join them as they show and tell about the broad range of products and services that southern Alberta businesses and organizations have to offer.

“We are well positioned to attract new investment from China and grow our exports of goods and services to China,” SouthGrow Regional Initiative executive director Pete Lovering said. “We also expect more interest in southern Alberta from China-based businesses thanks to a recently-announced direct flight from Beijing to Calgary on Hainan Air, so it is becoming very convenient for people to do business with us.”

Canada is China’s second-largest trading partner, with nearly $80-billion in trade flowing back and forth between the two countries, and nearly $60-billion in investment to date.

Canada is also among the top destinations for investors in a variety of business ventures that include agribusiness, tourism, transportation and technology.

Visits to the region have increased significantly over the past two years because southern Alberta is home to a diverse range of businesses, industries and organizations that fit these categories and also exemplify unique and high-quality Canadian-made products or services of interest to investors and government delegations.

Strategically selected and by invitation only, the Chinese investors and companies — primarily from the Anyang region in Henan province — will be from the sectors of agriculture, agri-food, renewable energy technologies, clean-technologies and tourism and chosen based on best-fit with the region’s strengths and opportunities.

Their visit is scheduled for October.

“This is an excellent opportunity to talk directly with buyers and suppliers who are looking to not only buy products, but to establish business investment relationships that are beneficial to both parties,” Lovering said.

A key element of this project is an investment guide package that will profile and promote the opportunities available in the Lethbridge region to visitors.

The English and Chinese package, being produced by Economic Development Lethbridge on behalf of the group, will be available on-line, in print and distributed to a number of international trade offices in Canada and China.  Interested participants have the opportunity to list their investment-ready project, opportunity, business, product or service in the material and also become part of the trade delegation meetings and site visits. 

The project will include opportunities to seek investment into new tourism developments, such as specialty resorts and campgrounds.

“Becoming more connected to the China market is of particular importance to our rural regions,” Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance executive director Bev Thornton said. “Our wide open spaces, breathtaking landscapes and authentic prairie and rocky mountain experiences offer the opportunity for people to connect with nature in a very personal way.”

The visitors are expected to be in southern Alberta for a week, and in addition to visiting business-focused sites will be able to experience the hospitality that has made the region famous world-wide.

For more information on the event contact Bev Thornton at 1-403-627-3373 or email bevatalbertasouthwest.com (subject: Southern%20Alberta-China%20Investment%20and%20Trade%20Initiative%20Inquiry)

To download the project highlight sheet click here.

To download the participant form click here.

CanExport – A new Program A New Export Program for Canadian Companies Announced

January 5, 2016 - Kitchener, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade, and the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, today announced CanExport, a new program that will provide $50 million to help Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises take advantage of global export opportunities.

CanExport is one of the building blocks of the government’s export strategy: it will help Canadian companies take advantage of opportunities abroad and increase their competitiveness, while creating jobs and growth at home.

CanExport will provide Canadian small businesses with matching contributions of between $10,000 and $100,000 toward export development costs. The new program will benefit hundreds of companies each year over the next five years.

CanExport was launched today at Communitech, an industry-led innovation centre that supports and fosters a community of nearly a thousand tech companies at all stages of growth and development, many of which will be able to take advantage of this new program.

To be eligible for the program, companies must employ fewer than 250 employees and have annual revenue in Canada of between $200,000 and $50 million. Eligible activities must promote export development and go beyond an applicant’s core activities, as well as represent new or expanded initiatives.

Quick facts

  • Trade accounts for approximately 65 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product, with one in five jobs linked directly to exports.
  • Small and medium-sized businesses employ 10 million Canadians, nearly 90 percent of the total private sector workforce.
  • Over 99 percent of all Canadian businesses are small or medium-sized.
  • CanExport will be delivered by Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, in partnership with the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.
  • Eligible CanExport costs include travel, participation at trade fairs, market research, adaptation of marketing tools for new markets and legal fees associated with distribution and representation agreements.

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www.InvestSouthwestAlberta.com – 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, www.InvestSouthwestAlberta.com.

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.

InvestSouthwestAlberta.com 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 www.InvestSouthwestAlberta.com 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”.

Building on Our Entrepreneurial Spirit: A Small Business Strategy for Alberta

We’ll help you find the small business information you’re actually looking for.
Receive answers to your small business questions within one business day by contacting a Business
Advisor at The Business Link, online at smallbusiness.alberta.ca or toll-free at
1-844-422-7705.

Summer Camp Profitable for Young Entrepreneurs

FRANK MCTIGHE

- MACLEOD GAZETTE EDITOR

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.

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Get in Touch

Community Futures Alberta Southwest
659 Main Street
Box 1568
Pincher Creek, AB T0K 1W0

403-627-3020
800-565-4418

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Communities Served

Aetna, 
Beaver Mines, 
Burmis, 
Cardston, 
Carway, 
Chief Mountain, 
Claresholm, 
Cowley, 
Fort Macleod, 
Glenwood, 
Granum, 
Hill Spring, 
Leavitt, 
Lundbreck, 
Mountain View, 
Pincher Creek, 
Pincher Station, 
Stavely, 
Twin Butte, 
Waterton, 

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