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News Release

September 21, 2007

Three More Projects Sponsored

New funding to help businesspeople, seniors and persons with disabilities

Tofield – Rural Alberta’s Development Fund (RADF) announced funding today of $1.35 million to sponsor three rural Alberta projects. RADF’s contribution will enable organizations to create a regional specialized transportation system, help bring investors and agrivalue businesses together, and kick-start or improve rural business incubators.

The Regional Barrier Free Transportation project will result in specialized transportation services being available to anyone living in 18 municipalities surrounding Calgary. The new model, managed by the Calgary Regional Transportation Services Society, features single booking/dispatch and coordination with existing non-profit service providers. The new service will allow rural seniors to age in place and persons with disabilities the choice to live and work in rural communities.

The Business Link’s VISTA project will assist rural communities to set up business incubators or enhance ones that already exist. The goal is to establish rural hubs that rival the services, resources and benefits available in large urban centres. This will primarily be done by using technology and The Business Link’s existing resources to bridge geography or knowledge gaps.

The Agrivalue Investor Network is a link between investors and agrivalue companies seeking capital. RADF’s sponsorship will enable the Network to move one step closer to providing province-wide service. AVNet, the Network’s creator, will use the funds to bolster rural services in the areas of matchmaking, training coordination and improved access.

“All these initiatives are innovative projects that promise substantial long-term impacts. We are pleased to be able to provide the support each project needs to prove its value,” said RADF Chair Bob Clark.

“The Alberta government applauds the RADF for helping stimulate economic growth with these three innovative community projects that contribute to the long-term growth and prosperity of rural Alberta,” said Iris Evans, Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry.

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 www.ruralalbertasfund.com

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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

 

BACKGROUNDER

Summary of Approved Projects

REGIONAL BARRIER FREE TRANSPORTATION
Fund contribution is $600,000

This project involves introducing a specialized transportation service to anyone who needs it within a broad geographic area surrounding Calgary. The new model will allow rural seniors to age in place and persons with disabilities the choice to live and work in rural communities. If successful, the model could be adopted in other rural areas of the province.

The new service will be coordinated with existing non-profit specialized transportation providers to avoid duplication and streamline operations. It is a major expansion of a limited service already provided by the Calgary Regional Transportation Services Society (CARTSS) and is expected to become fully operational in 2008. Rural communities to be served include Airdrie, Banff, Black Diamond, Canmore, Chestermere, Cochrane, Crossfield, High River, Nanton, Okotoks, Redwood Meadows, Strathmore, Tsuu T’ina Nation, Turner Valley, M.D. of Bighorn, M.D. of Foothills, M.D. of Rocky View and Wheatland County.

Expected results include:

  • A streamlined, single point of contact for people to book and receive specialized transportation service.
  • Coordinated and maximized use of existing specialized transportation resources in local communities.
  • Increased availability and reduced trip cancellations.
  • Increased rider access and use.
  • Elimination of insurance barriers that currently discourage the use of volunteer drivers.
  • Full regional participation in the Alliance for Simplified Services in Specialized Transportation.

Contact: Steve Grande, Chief Administrative Officer, CARTSS.
T: 403.615.6283

VIRTUAL INCUBATOR SERVICES THROUGHOUT ALBERTA (VISTA)
Fund contribution is $453,000

This project will assist rural communities to set up business incubators or enhance ones they already have in place. The Business Link, a province-wide business information service centre, created Virtual Incubator Services Throughout Alberta (VISTA) to establish rural incubators that match the services, resources and benefits of those found in large urban centres. Project partners include Alberta Employment, Immigration
and Industry and the Community Futures Network of Alberta.

VISTA’s group of services will allow rural incubators to provide a broad range of services, reduce costs and adapt better to regional needs. Project supporters believe piggybacking upon The Business Link’s established resources will make VISTA sustainable and cost-effective. A tool kit of support materials and facilitated training will be developed to help interested groups to decide if a local business incubator is right for their community.

Expected results include:

  • A strong and vibrant network of sustainable rural business incubators across Alberta.
  • Better informed and well developed decision-making in incubator planning.
  • More capacity to serve the needs of rural business.
  • An increase in the number of healthy rural businesses.
  • Increased economic well-being in rural communities.

Contact: Rodger Cole, Executive Director, The Business Link.
T: 780.422.7744
buslink@cbsc.ic.gc.ab
Website: www.canadabusiness.ca/alberta/main.cfm

AGRIVALUE INVESTOR NETWORK
Fund contribution is $297,000

RADF’s contribution enables AVNet, a non-profit Alberta company, to move one step closer to establishing a full service Agrivalue Investor Network in Alberta. This transition step will create matchmaking services, training coordination and improved access to investment funds for rural entrepreneurs and companies. AVNet is a provincial, non-profit virtual company that showcases per-screened business opportunities to
investors.

The Network provides a vital link between agrivalue companies seeking capital and investors with an interest in those investment opportunities. Once fully established, coaching and training to help companies become investor ready would be readily available. The Network’s development includes establishing collaborative ties with existing agrivalue agencies and organizations in Alberta to provide additional benefits to rural business. Letters of understanding in support of the Network have been signed with Community Futures Network of Alberta, Red Deer College, BioAlberta, the Alberta Council of Technologies, Calgary Technologies Inc. and Alberta Deal Generator. Alberta Agriculture and Food
provided AVNet’s start-up funding.

Expected results include:

  • Increased awareness of Alberta agrivalue companies as good investment opportunities.
  • Increased investment in the agrivalue industry.
  • More rural entrepreneurs and businesses take advantage of AVNet’s services.
  • Rural entrepreneurs and businesses, through coaching and training, have a better understanding of investors needs.
  • More arranged meetings between investors and agrivalue entrepreneurs and businesses.

Contact: Corey Keith, President, AVNet.
T: 403.933-5883
corey.keith@avnetonline.ca
Website: www.avnetonline.ca