May 24th, 2019

Economic alliance: New name, same goal

By COLLIN GALLANT on May 16, 2019.

NEWS PHOTO COLLIN GALLANT
Sarah Friesen, the owner of Junction Design, discusses the new marketing strategy for regional economic development provider, Verge Economic Development, with Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds on May 15, 2019 at the Riverview Golf Course in Redcliff.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Economic development in the area around Medicine Hat has a new name and a new outlook, according to officials who gathered in Redcliff on Wednesday to launch a new branding for regional business attraction effort.

Bolstered by agricultural development and renewable energy projects, Verge Economic Development was crowned as the new title for the former Economic Development Alliance of Southeastern Alberta, or EDA for short.

“It didn’t fit very well on a T-shirt,” joked Gordon Reynolds, the mayor of Bow Island, during his remarks.

Later, he punned that the region was “on the cusp” of positive growth.

“It’s been a very exciting journey,” he said. “We’ve created a lot of momentum, and there will be a lot of new energy put towards it in the next few years.”

The new name has been used for several months now, after it was developed last year, but the organization chose May 15 for the launch because it lines up with the day the original EDA was created 16 years ago.

The change freshens up the brand, said executive director Theresa Hardiker, who joined at about the same time that charter member, the City of Medicine Hat, created its own business development program. That left four remaining municipal partners: Cypress County, Redcliff, Bow Island and the county of Forty Mile.

“Stimulating growth and wealth in our areas has always remained the goal,” she told the gathering at Riverview Golf Course in Redcliff.

The organization concentrates on business retention and expansion, developing sector-by-sector outlooks and works with firms looking to invest. Elected officials said it’s been a valuable in-house business development wing and they are pleased with the results.

Reynolds said hemp and other specialty crops are now being discussed as a processing opportunity.

“There are a lot of positives right now,” said Steve Wikkerink, the reeve of Forty Mile County where Capital Power broke ground this spring on a $325-million wind farm. That’s led to new contracts for the producer-owned Forty Mile shortline railway.

“The spinoffs are starting to show themselves,” said Wikkerink, and in agriculture in the town “there’s benefits, even it’s just for our (farm) ratepayers.”

The stylized logo was locally developed by local company Flag 5 marketing and a new website (verge.ed.ca) was created by Junction Design.

“I think it will catch people’s attention,” said Cypress Coun. Alf Belyea. “New is always better.”

Part of a newly updated mandate is to concentrate of attraction in four key sectors: tourism, oil and gas, renewable energy and technology and manufacturing.

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