+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 3-24S

Continued Support for Regional Economic Development Alliances

Date:
April 1, 2024
Expiry Date:
February 28, 2027
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
County of Paintearth
District:
2 - Central
Year:
2024
Convention:
Spring
Category:
Industry and Resource Development
Status:
Sent to Government
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS pursuant to the Municipal Government Act, the purposes of a municipality are to “provide good government, foster the economic development of the municipality, to provide services, facilities or other things that, […] are necessary or desirable for all or part of a municipality; and, to develop and maintain safe and viable communities”; and

WHEREAS for over 20 years, the Government of Alberta has embraced a partnership with Alberta’s municipalities to plan and undertake regional economic development initiatives of mutual interest; and

WHEREAS the success of this partnership made Alberta a leader in the delivery of regional economic development; and

WHEREAS Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDAs) have been in operation for over 20 years as a supplementary asset to municipal economic development service delivery; and

WHEREAS REDAs are especially important to offset cost-constraints and limited budget capacity for both small urban and rural communities; and

WHEREAS through a focused strategy, an innovative solution can be implemented to budget long-term, consistent funding for REDAs to support their continued role in supporting overall provincial economic growth;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT BE RESOLVED that Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) request that a memorandum of understanding be held, in committee, between the Government of Alberta (GOA), Alberta’s municipalities, RMA, ABmunis, and existing Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDAs) to redevelop a clear purpose and program structure for the REDAs, inclusive of a stable, long-term, collaborative approach to funding the same; and

FURTHER IT BE RESOLVED that the GOA provide continuous, stable funding to existing REDAs to support a combined budget of $125,000/year in operational funding and $100,000/year in project funding, until a memorandum of re-organization is complete and enacted.

Member Background:

Alberta’s municipalities, in partnership with the Government of Alberta (GOA), have a significant opportunity to re-strategize resources funding provincial economic initiatives by redeveloping a clear purpose for Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDAs). The GOA’s announcement to defund the current REDA program structure on January 19, 2024, for a second time in five years, foretells that the current structure requires a new focus to maximize its strategic value in current market conditions. The intent of this resolution is to evolve the REDAs into a trusted economic development resource, having them stabilize Alberta’s advantage for long-term, approachable market readiness and world class customer service as they connect people to grow. To outline this transformational opportunity, first, the value of the REDAs will be outlined.

REDAs inherently hold a powerful role by serving as an ethically neutral information hub; wherein, the capacity of the REDAs strategically supports two diverse regulatory bodies’ (both the GOA and Alberta’s municipalities) terms and conditions (i.e. minimum wage or mill-rates) while maintaining a trusted third-party cooperative position to build venture networks, connecting local assets to a global economy. Their position expands growth opportunity by removing red tape and policy bias limitations in the response time required to capture market investment. Further to their ability to expand capital innovation, REDAs are the ambassadors of “Made in Alberta” as they support a complex web of interactive relationships including: Government of Canada, GOA, lobbying associations, municipalities, post-secondary institutions and local school districts, chambers of commerce, industry, local producers/entrepreneurs, transportation networks, REDA counterparts, local economic societies, lending providers, grant providers, investment cooperatives, economic advisors, external markets, independent educators and market consultants service supports, site selectors, assessment firms, developers, etc.

For over 20 years, this network has supported Alberta’s economic investments, thereby building confidence in complex market networks and supportive information exchange to capture investment and growth on a minimal program budget. Rather than suffer a slow loss of this rich asset, REDAs are a resource that require new investment of focus and assignment of resources to support Alberta’s economy. Further to the qualitative value of relationships provided, REDAs also offer a significant resource cost-benefit ratio, being a low-risk investment for the benefits provided.

For example, if each municipality were to employ an Economic Development Officer (“EDO”) (at a median annual wage of $109,262.39/year) to meet the intent of section 3(2.a) of the Municipal Government Act, the total employee resource cost (one resource per 332 municipalities) for the province would be $36,275,113.48/year. Comparatively, if the REDAs received an innovative restructuring where 13 regional zones are established, each resourced with a Senior EDO (at a median resource cost of $160,863.04/year ), a Junior EDO (at a median resource cost of $108,010.96/year ) and an Administrative/Financial Clerk (at a median resource cost of $63,929.33/year ) the total employee resource cost (13 zones with three resources each, 39 total resources) would be $4,326,443.20/year.

REDAs are a high-value quality resource, capable of meeting real market inquiry by providing sound investment information. By resourcing this tool with sufficient and qualified staff there is more value-added in an organized group of regions showcasing Alberta as an asset rich whole-sum community, from which no opportunity leaves. For example, should a market inquiry not fit one REDA, but another REDA does have the market indicators for investment, the inquiry is not lost. Rather, it is diverted with a tactical approach to retain maximum provincial growth. In other words, cooperative investment attracts further investment.

In a memorandum of understanding, held by the GOA, Alberta’s municipalities, RMA, ABmunis, and existing REDAs, the opportunity to evolve the REDAs into a modernized economic tool could be met with enthusiasm. By supporting an ideological change in how Alberta connects with the world, the announcement of a restructure demonstrates Alberta’s innovative approach to market readiness through market diplomacy. Through collaborative planning, a committee comprised of the aforementioned partners can refocus the organizational nature of the REDA for world class customer service, while developing a long-term stable approach to funding. During the interim, it is requested to stabilize existing funding, having $125,000/year for operational costs and $100,000/year for project costs (to participate in project-based opportunities) provided annually to the existing organizations. REDAs are encouraged to increase membership baselines. The provision of interim stabilizing funding will maintain existing relationships within the REDA networks and will allow the connections at this level to flow without continuity disruption.

To ensure clarity, REDAs are a whole-sum community baseline of total provincial economic investment, providing market customer service of economic development opportunity. This baseline is to be built upon by incentives generated by both the GOA and Alberta’s municipalities, having the same encouraged to support economic attraction through sound policy, red tape reduction and readiness to self-invest in economic positioning. This collaborative position supports autonomy for each participant while stabilizing policy influence on broad market behaviors. Communication within a stabilized REDA structure would also encourage short-economic chains of value-added market investment both locally and regionally, encouraging market actors to support localized economies (i.e. local GDP values for developing attractive indicators to encourage positive market behavior). Mindful resourcing also does not create market competition, but rather stabilization. As the customer service base resource, REDAs are encouraged to connect current and future economic services to market inquiry when nearing capacity to ensure robust market capture and cooperative relationship stewardship.

Alberta has the opportunity to evolve REDAs to produce a world class customer service response to market education, attraction and retention of economic development. “Welcome to Alberta, how may I help you grow?”

RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

 

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