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News Release

September 7, 2007

Families Get Help to Keep Businesses in Rural Communities

Tofield – Rural Alberta’s Development Fund (RADF) announced today $1.5 million in funding support to help rural, family owned small businesses in Alberta successfully transfer expertise and assets from one owner to another. The announcement was made following RADF’s first Annual General Meeting.

Family enterprises are the largest and most significant group of business owners in rural Alberta. Of the more than 45,000 small businesses in rural Alberta, most are very small with five or less employees. Those that wish to transfer their business to sons or daughters or another small business person often lack the knowledge to do it well. RADF is sponsoring the Alberta Business Family Institute’s Creating Pathways
for Entrepreneurial Families project so that it can fill this void.

“This is a great project. The Board is confident it will enable many rural entrepreneurs, particularly young people, to get the training and support they need to stay and build a future in rural communities,” said Bob Clark, RADF Board Chair.

Housed at the University of Alberta, the Alberta Business Family Institute will deliver project components through community hubs like Camrose and communication vehicles like the SuperNet. People in rural Alberta will be recruited and trained to be mentors and teachers. Over time, this will build a stockpile of expertise and resources right where they are needed.

“Business families, particularly those in rural communities, face unique and complex opportunities and challenges. Funding of this program allows us to promote economic development in rural communities, build community capacity, expand learning and skill development and provide opportunities for rural youth,” commented Jim Henderson, the Institute’s Executive Director.

Rural Alberta’s Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. It is funded by the Government of Alberta and is a key implementation initiative of Alberta’s Rural Development Strategy. More information is available at

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Direct media enquiries to:
Godfrey Huybregts, Director of Communications, Rural Alberta’s Development Fund
1-877-940-7233 Cell: 780-953-0525



Summary of Approved Project

Creating Pathways for Entrepreneurial Families
Fund contribution is $1.5 million

This project will result in rural, family owned and operated businesses having Alberta Business Family Institute programs, resources and expertise delivered closer to home. The main goal is to help build sustainable communities across rural Alberta by assisting rural family enterprises and their advisors to develop and implement successful strategies for the future. Particular focus will be placed on helping people do good succession planning.

Knowledge transfer is a major component of the project. This will be accomplished by training local professionals and service providers to deliver on-going education in local communities where it is needed. Training hubs will be set up in Camrose, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge as these areas have the heaviest concentration of family operated small businesses. The Camrose center will be established first. It is expected to be operational by the spring of 2008.

The Alberta Business Family Institute was created by the University of Alberta’s School of Business to offer research-based educational programs to families who own and operate businesses in Alberta. Partners in the Creating Pathways for Entrepreneurial Families project include the Agriculture & Food Council, Alberta Council of Technologies, Alberta Financial Services Corporation, Community Futures Offices, Canadian Association of Family Enterprise and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise.

Expected results include:

  • More young people choose to stay and build their futures in rural Alberta
  • More rural family businesses are transferred successfully from one generation to the next
  • Greater availability of highly skilled and trained people to work in and lead business initiatives in rural communities
  • Strengthened and increased retention of leadership in business families
  • Increased access to quality and relevant business education in rural Alberta
  • Increased diversity of employment opportunities in rural Alberta
  • More collaborative networks and regional partnerships supporting rural development

Contact: Jim Henderson, Executive Director, Alberta Business Family Institute.
T: 780.492.5401