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Economic Development Lethbridge looking to kickstart food corridor

Posted on February 9, 2023 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times
cparkinson@tabertimes.com

As the Taber area continues to develop infrastructure to build out the food corridor, Economic Development Lethbridge is continuing to promote the area. 

At Municipal District of Taber council’s regular meeting on Jan. 24, Ben Young, director of Investment Attraction for Economic Development Lethbridge, gave councillors an update on their Canada’s Premier Food Corridor (CPFC) Ignition Project. 

“It’s been going for about four and a half years now with the five primary partners being Economic Development Lethbridge, the Town of Taber, the Town of Coaldale, Lethbridge County, and the M.D. of Taber,” stated Young. “With PrairiesCan setting up offices in southern Alberta and with some other new grant programs, there has really been access to new funding that was not really available for this type of economic development initiative before. We’re looking to capitalize on some of that and really have some dedicated resources to the CPFC for the next few years.”

While plenty of work has been done in the past few years, the boom in agri-food in the area has started to gain tons of momentum. And the groups are hoping to capitalize on that as soon as possible.

“To date, we’ve completed some strategic planning, we’ve hosted some investment tours, we’ve done the asset mapping, there’s a couple of videos (on the website), and as a group, we successfully received CARES (Community and Regional Economic Support) funding about two years ago to do marketing promotional activities, mostly with Google ads, LinkedIn ads, and Twitter just to promote the website and try to drive traffic there,” said Young. 

Funding is a large piece of the puzzle and Young explained what the group was looking for from member municipalities.

“We are in the process of applying for funding for PrairiesCan, and that’s really why I am here today to ask for M.D. of Taber support for $5,000 for the next three years to really unlock that federal program as well as leverage for some provincial funding,” he said. “Over the five partnering municipalities, we’re looking at collectively putting together $340,000 over the next three years from all five. Leveraging then about $1 million from the province and feds for an overall project budget of about $1.4 million for the next three years. That’s really for us to undertake a more proactive approach for existing businesses with the food corridor here and also to do some investment attraction initiatives.” 

“What financial contribution are you asking for? It’s $5,000 a year for three years?” asked Reeve Merrill Harris.

“Correct, so $15,000 total. It’s $5,000 for 2023, 2024, and 2025,” replied Young. 

Council also had questions about the project’s location and scope.

“Why is it limited to the borders of the M.D. of Taber and doesn’t go further east?” asked Coun. John Turcato. 

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