May 27th, 2024

EDL signs MOU with Great Falls Development Alliance

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on May 11, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

It’s been said, two heads are better than one, so why not two cities?
Economic development organizations from Lethbridge and Great Falls, Mont. are joining forces to strengthen and diversify the food, agriculture, bioprocessing and energy industries in both regions, and they met Friday in Lethbridge to make the partnership official.
“We’re very excited to partner with Great Falls,” Trevor Lewington, chief executive officer of Economic Development Lethbridge, said during a meeting at Tecconnect on the northside. “They’re a very similar economy to ours, very similar investment priorities to us.”
Lewington and Brett Doney, president and CEO of Great Falls Development Alliance, signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at helping the two organizations learn from each other and share strategies they use for investment, business retention, and innovation.
“The MOU is about collaboration and cooperation,” Lewington said. “We think somewhat similar to our friends in Great Falls, they approach business the same way, we have similar priorities. The MOU basically just says we are committing to each other to work more collaboratively together.”
Lewington said neither city is internationally well-known, but the two organizations working together can create a regional attraction strategy, and give international companies options that best suit their needs, whether in Canada or the U.S.
Agri-food processing, for example, is a key priority for both regions, Lewington said, and if they are talking to a European processor that wants a presence in North America but doesn’t understand the difference between operating in Canada and the U.S., the economic partners can provide two proposals together.
“Canada has some trade agreement advantages depending on where the final market might be, the U.S. has some different cost advantages depending on what the process or the ingredient might be.”
Lewington acknowledged there will be some friendly competition as the two regions jointly explore the opportunities.
“We certainly will put up a good fight to make sure that we put our best foot forward.”
Doney said the Great Falls Development Alliance serves not only Great Falls, but the region right up to the Canada-U.S. border. He said he met Lewington several years ago and joined the Economic Development Alberta Association, and they began looking at the similarities between the two regions, particularly in agriculture, food and agri-processing.
Doney said many businesses, farmers and ranchers are already conducting cross-border business, and a partnership will benefit existing businesses and even entrepreneurs.
“We don’t see each other as competitive regions,” he said.
AS part of the MOU, both EDL and GFDA agree to twice-annual cross-border visits to explore each other’s regions, visit appropriate businesses, learn from each other’s successful policies and promote local resources and the benefits of doing business in each region.
They agree to host an event at an industry trade show to promote the partnership and the benefits of doing business in the Lethbridge-Great Falls corridor, and to promote the partnership in each other’s individual media strategies with shared letterhead.
The partners will also encourage the participation and cooperation of other non-profits organizations in the regions, including, but not limited to, Tourism Lethbridge and Great Falls Tourism, and their respective chambers of Commerce.
“The Great Falls Development Alliance is excited to partner with Economic Development Lethbridge on one of the first cross-border partnerships between economic development organizations in the United States and Canada,” Doney said. “With this memorandum of understanding between our two organizations, we hope to better assist companies who currently do business in both of our communities, and those companies who want to explore new markets. We will also forge ahead with co-marketing opportunities of the Great Falls-Lethbridge corridor as an attractive region to start, grow or relocate a business.”

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