Airdrie City Council has introduced a newly established Community Event Grant, previously known as the Community Investment Fund. City Council will be connecting this work to the Airdrie Endorsement Strategy from 2018. The overall goal for this 10-year-long strategy is to increase non-residential assessment for the city.
By 2028, Airdrie will have the foundational pieces put in place to shift the tax base by focusing on attracting new industries and growing existing businesses to support the needs of residents.
Sara Chamberlain, Team Leader for Economic Development in Airdrie, says the plan released lays in the function of business and investment attraction with tourism by supporting entrepreneurs with business retention and expansion efforts being equally as important as attracting new investment to the city.
“This plan supports all the objectives in the Airdrie Endorsements Strategy but is mostly aligned with retaining and growing Airdrie business,” says Chamberlain.
Chamberlain says that attracting new investment is a collaborative effort and they will need help from the city in order to make it happen.
The Business and Investment Attraction Plan (BIAP) is a 5-year-long plan. It is 5-years-long to ensure they can manage their resources appropriately because investment attraction can take a while to happen. The BIAP is based on research that incorporates best practices in economic development. The plan considers Airdrie’s current state and transient influences that could impact the city. It is meant to be a flexible and evolving plan that reflects current realities.
Sara Chamberlain says the vision for The Business and Investment Attraction Plan is to link it with Airdrie’s Economic Strategy of becoming the place to be in western Canada. The Economic Strategy established that Airdrie is the place to be, that Airdrie is right for the business, and that Airdrie has a connected community.
The Economic Development Department looks after Airdrie`s economic strategy, delivering three core services aligned with the strategies' goals and objectives. The three core services that will be delivered are visitor economy, business development, and business and investment attraction.
“This plan is about attracting, retaining, and growing business and investment that contributes to the overall sustainability of the local, regional, and provincial economy,” says Chamberlain.
Christa Sanders, Economic Development Officer, says the overall objective for this plan is to provide a detailed and progressive guide for Airdrie City Ambassadors to support the pursuit of investment.
“At the heart of the plan, there are 4 strategic pillars that will need to be mastered to achieve success.”
The four pillars are knowing the value of the proposition, mastering process and structure, relationship building, and strategic marketing. Sanders says that knowing and leveraging the proposition is a key component of this plan.
From last year's research, the basis for Airdrie’s value proposition is grounded in fundamental key factors required for economic growth including land, labour, and capital.
Airdrie has sustained year-over-year population growth. There is also a demand for green-filled opportunities and redevelopment opportunities.
Airdrie has low development levies, but there are no development levies in Downtown Airdrie. Airdrie’s economic strategy identified a number of opportunities for the city and the value propositions will align perfectly with these opportunities.
The Business and Investment Attraction Plan outlines tactics to pursue redevelopment. Actively looking for investment and reinvestment leading to the revitalization and redevelopment of retail offices and industrial properties across Airdrie will help contribute to increasing Airdrie`s non-residential tax space.
This will also help provide new employment opportunities for residents and increase the aesthetic appeal of the city.
Opportunities for placemaking will help contribute to the overall viability of encouraging investment in redevelopment. The Business and Investment Attraction Plan will ultimately contribute to the Economic Strategy’s overall goal and the Right for Business objective. It is also a direct action to support the Council’s 2023-2026 focus area of Economic Development.
“Airdrie has been attracted for many types of economic activity. Business growth has not hinged on any one sector,” says Sanders.
There is now a more strategic and targeted approach with business and investment attraction efforts to diversify Airdrie’s economy, for example growing Airdrie’s agricultural business.
“Great momentum has been gained so far with significant internal and external collaboration moving the progress needle,” says Sanders.
There is also the opportunity to capitalize on emerging sectors in industries supported both provincially and on a federal level. The Business and Investment Attraction Plan seeks to build ambassadorship and partnership.
Airdrie’s Department of Economic Development has added a LinkedIn account to their list of strategies as well as an online advertising campaign to reach markets outside of Alberta. Old and new relationships have been strengthened and built.
Airdrie economic development connections on LinkedIn grew by 60% between March 1 2021 and March 31, 2022.
Airdrie Economic Development has tackled refining the customer experience as a greater city Airdrie team through cross-departmental, cross-functional services adaptable for large complex investments. Cross-functional teams have guided several large investments in Airdrie including the Costco expansion.
The strategy will measure the success by the same performance metrics used in Airdrie`s economic strategy. There will be a specific focus on measuring the non-residential assessment value, the number of new businesses in Airdrie as well as the number of employees at businesses in Airdrie. This year they will also report on vacancy rates and sales transactions.
Airdrie City Council supported a budget of $65,000 in business support for this year. Currently, they are waiting for the results from the COVID Impact Assessment to be responsible with funds so they can understand how Airdrie needs to be best supported.
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