MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - County council has approved the municipality’s new 2022-27 economic development strategy, which includes goals for business growth, retention, expansion and attraction.
Chris Atchison, Mountain View County's director of legislative services, outlined and reviewed the updated strategy with council. He explained that the plan is a “long-term document” to provide high level strategic direction to administration.
“What we have done is gone through the existing economic development strategy from 2017 to 2021 and updated it with all the comments we’ve heard from council during strategy planning sessions, corporate strategic planning sessions, as well as other comments,” said Atchison.
“We have tried to compile it all into a document that we can use as our high level document to then draft what our individual action plans are going to look like in the coming years.”
The strategy will complement the county’s previously approved statutory plans and policies while providing a foundation for future economic development success as well as other studies and documents that may be prepared by economic development in the future such as marketing plans, business plans, and sector assessments, he said.
The strategy outlines three principle economic development goals:
• Protecting the agricultural identity of Mountain View County - “Mountain View County differentiates itself from other municipalities in proximity through its agricultural identity. The strong foundation of agriculture and support that the sector has from ratepayers, industry, and other community partners, including Olds College, certainly speaks to the importance of Mountain View County’s Agricultural Identity. Although a primary focus of this strategy will be to encourage economic growth to be located in areas that prevent conflict with the agricultural sector, council is supportive of encouraging traditional, innovative, and value-added agriculture industry throughout the municipality.”
• Diversification of the economic base of Mountain View County to ensure tax base sustainability in order to continue to provide the high level of service outlined in Mountain View County’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan - “Mountain View County currently obtains approximately 43 per cent of its total taxation from linear assessment. Council has a focus on diversifying the overall tax base to decrease the reliance that the municipality has on linear assessment and create a higher level of sustainability and resiliency.”
• Maintaining the local autonomy of Mountain View County while supporting growth in both rural and surrounding urban areas - “Mountain View County has centred its economic development objectives around the accomplishment of priorities that are specific to the county’s objectives. Mountain View County has a long and successful history working with its adjacent urban and rural partners and will continue to build a stronger region through working together where outcomes are mutually beneficial and in alignment with council’s direction.”
The strategy also outlines four economic development objectives:
• Business growth potential, with potential action items including an annual review of linear taxation gap in comparison with non-residential growth potential, a review of non-residential and non-agricultural land absorption rates, identification of conflicts with statutory documents to achieve increases in non-residential growth potential, and a review of existing opportunities in Mountain View County for value-added revenue streams.
• Business retention and expansion, with potential action items including increased marketing of existing businesses within the county, creation of workshop series/networking sessions, on-going site tours and conversations, growing home-based businesses, and the facilitation of future growth.
• Business attraction, with potential action items including development of a marketing plan to showcase existing business park vacancies and airport lots available, future airport lot development, collaboration with airport advisory committee to further market Mountain View County airports, development of a standard template for efficient response to business inquiries, and further refine the internal relationship between planning and development.
• Building relationships, with potential action items including connecting with local developers and realtors to understand any challenges with the Mountain View County market and identify possible solutions, continuing with established communication lines with existing businesses, facilitating communication between businesses within the county with a focus on retention of customers, and connect with local chambers of commerce to participate in initiatives that support the county’s endeavours.
Reeve Angela Aalbers called the updated strategy good for the county.
“I think the strategy reflects the discussion that we had at our strategic planning retreat, so I see nothing in there that causes a concern,” said Aalbers.
Coun. Jennifer Lutz put forward the motion to accept the 2022-27 economic development strategy as presented. The motion passed unanimously.