County shuns plan citing needless overlapping

Richard Froese
South Peace News
Doors on a proposed program to visit and gather information about businesses in the High Prairie area have been shut.

At its regular meeting March 1, Big Lakes County approved a staff recommendation to deny funding for the 2017 Business Visitation Program proposed by Community Futures Lesser Slave Lake Region.

Jordan Panasiuk, director of community services, explained that such a project was already part of the work of economic development officer Lisa Baroldi, who is working with the Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority.

“We see a lot of overlap already with Lisa,” Panasiuk says.

Community Futures executive director Christopher Robblee presented the proposal to council Oct. 12. He proposed a partnership with the Town of High Prairie to visit and interview businesses to understand the needs of local businesses, and help councils make informed decisions about what affects the business community.

“The Town of High Prairie has since decided to opt out of this program for 2017,” Panasiuk says.

With the town as a partner, the county would have contributed $17,500 in 2017.

However, as the lone municipality, the county was asked to pay $25,000.

Robblee adds the program would also support retention and growth of current businesses and identify potential areas for growth.

After he presented the proposal to county council, Robblee said he was pleased with positive response of most councillors.

Seeking to conduct such a program separately for the town and the county, he says each council would customize a set of questions to obtain information it believes would be most valuable.

Information and data would be collected to aid with effective strategic planning, understand and address urgent business issues and suggest recommendations to municipal councils.

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