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Town looks to encourage economic development

Town council got an update on the progress of the new Economic Development Strategy being ironed out by administration to guide the department over the next three years.

Town council got an update on the progress of the new Economic Development Strategy being ironed out by administration to guide the department over the next three years.

Thus far, the town has conducted several focus groups to discuss what issues need to be addressed. Parties that have had input into the matter include the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce, Employment Services, the Business Network, various 5th Ave., Highway 1A and downtown businesses and the Calgary Regional Partnership.

“The actions are trying to ensure that they’re written in such a way that it allows for flexibility,” said economic development manager Maggie Armstrong, “because it’s really in our business plans…that’s where we get down into the nuts and bolts and the detail of how we’re going to address those themes.”

The themes Armstrong is speaking to are those that were devised following input from focus groups. There are six in total: downtown, recreation and business development, education, marketing and development planning. Action items will be used to address each of the themes.

“We don’t want to lose thoughts that we have in those areas,” said Armstrong of the need to develop action items to best take advantage of the themes identified.

“We’ll put the detail into it each year that we review it and see where it makes more sense to put our energy in that particular year.

Those who participated in the focus groups were asked six questions by town administration in their endeavour to pinpoint the six themes.

The questions asked what type of business would be interested in Cochrane; what could be said to convince businesses to operate here; what economic barriers exist; what others see as a weakness for business in Cochrane; key consideration for economic development; and what will hopefully be different in Cochrane going into the next 10 years.

Though they are still in the infancy stage of creating a new Economic Development Strategy, administration anticipates a final draft will be brought to council in November of this year.