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New Project Builds on Economic Strength for Future Success

February 15, 2011

Rural Alberta Development Fund Board of Directors has approved $848,600 in funding to support the development of business clusters in rural areas. Clusters are the main wealth generating businesses in a community, where the most potential for increased economic activity lies.

"Often the best answer to a challenge is to look at what your strengths are, and find a way to build or adapt them to address your challenge," said Hon. Jack Hayden, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. "This is exactly what this project aims to do from an economic development standpoint. Leveraging partnerships and existing strengths provides great opportunity for the prosperity and sustainability of our rural communities."

Delivered through Community Futures Alberta, the Rural Cluster Development Project will build capacity within communities by providing support and assistance of two cluster coaches, as well as networking and learning opportunities, including an on-line course, workshops, and a toolkit of cluster development best practices.

Community Futures Alberta has also selected three potential cluster sites in the province to provide additional resources to. In addition to the educational and mentorship opportunities, each selected cluster site will be guided through the entire cluster development process by a facilitator.

"Not only will this program provide training and educational opportunities to businesses throughout the province, it will guide three potential sites through the process from theory into reality," says Jann Beeston, Chair, Board of Directors, Rural Alberta Development Fund. "By the end of the two years, these three cluster sites will be well on their way to having successfully created clusters."

The clusters will be developed through Brooks Metal Manufacturing, with the County of Newell and City of Brooks, The Chinook Country Regional Cluster Development and Tourism Strategy, in partnership with the city of Lethbridge, and the Central Alberta Manufacturing Network (CARMA) in the Red Deer area. The Rural Cluster Development Project will be a transferable model that can be used by other areas and potential cluster sites to guide their development. The project is expected to be complete by spring 2013.

For more information, contact:
Courtney Mosentine
Director of Communications
Rural Alberta Development Fund
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