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News Release

April 24, 2008

Rural Programs Get $10 Million Boost

New funding improves quality of life, self-sufficiency in rural Alberta

Tofield – Rural Alberta’s Development Fund (RADF) announced funding today of $10.1 million for five new rural Alberta projects. The funding will improve the quality of life for many rural Albertans and help two rural organizations become more self-sufficient.

The largest contribution - $3.7 million - went to the Rural Information Services Initiative. This project will create a high speed, on-line information system network amongst 80 southern Alberta rural libraries in the Chinook Arch, Shortgrass and Marigold library systems. An investment of $3.4 million in the Centre for Research and Innovation in Grande Prairie will help entrepreneurs in northwest Alberta turn ideas and innovations into commercially viable services or products.

RADF’s $960,000 investment in the Alberta 4-H Development project will enable the provincial organization to become self-sufficient. Achieving self-sufficiency is also the purpose for providing $1.5 million in funding support to the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball. Red Deer College has been given $565,700 to create and operate an applied research rural health program in central Alberta.

“We are pleased to invest in these projects because they will enhance the quality of life for a significant number of people in rural Alberta,” commented Bob Clark, RADF chair.

“Vibrant, rural communities are important to our province’s economic prosperity and future opportunities,” said George Groeneveld, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Through valuable projects such as these, Rural Alberta’s Development Fund continues to encourage innovation and economic diversity, and create access to quality services and programs that improve rural life for Albertans of all ages.”

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
T: 1.877.940.7233 C: 780.953.0525


BACKGROUNDER

Summary of Approved Projects

April 24, 2008

RURAL INFORMATION SERVICES INITIATIVE
Fund contribution is $3.7 million

The Rural Information Services Initiative (RISE) is a partnership between Chinook Arch, Shortgrass and Marigold library systems in southern Alberta. The project’s goal is to establish, for the first time, virtual meeting rooms with high speed video internet access at 80 rural libraries and other public locations. This will give rural residents more opportunities for on-line learning and skill development and increased access to public services such as Service Canada and Service Alberta.

The rooms will be made available to local businesses, distance education students and government workers. Literacy programs such as English as a Second Language and interactive reading programs will be offered. Alberta Municipal Affairs and the Alberta Public Library Electronic Network are supporting the RISE project by purchasing video conferencing equipment.

Expected results include:

  • Improved information resources and new services in local community libraries.
  • More on-line services and programs made available to southern Alberta residents.
  • Increased number of people taking distance education courses and making use of on-line public services.
  • Ready access to virtual meeting rooms to use as consulting and communications tool for institutions, businesses, governments and individuals.

Contact: Maggie Macdonald, CEO, Chinook Arch regional Library System.
T: 403-380-1505
mmacdonald@chinookarch.ca
www.chinookarch.ca

ALBERTA 4-H DEVELOPMENT
Fund contribution is $960,000

RADF’s support of this project will enable the 4-H Foundation of Alberta to become self-sufficient. A new funding model for Alberta 4-H will nearly triple its program income in 10 years and substantially reduce its reliance on government funding. A newly created governance model and operational practices plus a new fund development organizational structure will support this new direction.

Increased self-sufficiency would position Alberta 4-H to engage in new and innovative programming. Other partners and supporters of this project are Alberta 4-H partners (Alberta 4-H Council and Alberta 4-H Branch), Alberta 4-H Legacy Builders (Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, ATB Financial, Canada Safeway Limited, EnCana Corporation, UFA Cooperative Limited), Alberta 4-H Enhancers (AltaLink Management Ltd, Apache Canada Ltd and Penn West Energy Trust).

Expected results include:

  • Greater stability and self-sufficiency.
  • Substantial decrease in reliance on government funding.
  • Development of new programming for rural Alberta youth.

Contact: Bruce Banks, CEO, 4-H Foundation of Alberta.
T: 877-682-2153
banks@4hab.com
www.4h.ab.ca

VAUXHALL BASEBALL ACADEMY
Fund contribution is $1.5 million

Funding provided to the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball will result in a permanent, self-funding sports academy at Vauxhall High School. To reach self-sufficiency, the Academy expects to triple its enrollment to 60 student-athletes and develop a fitness and treatment program that will be available to the public. This program would be housed in Community Wellness Centre and would include physiotherapy and other healthcare services.

Project sponsors include the Horizon School Division, the Town of Vauxhall, the Prairie Baseball Academy in Lethbridge, the Alberta Amateur Baseball Council, American Legion Baseball Programs, the Vauxhall Business Association and many private individuals.

Expected results include:

  • Increased and stabilized Vauxhall High School enrolment.
  • A self-sustaining, stable baseball Academy program.
  • Increased employment and economic activity in Vauxhall and the surrounding area.

Contact: Todd Ojala, President, Vauxhall Baseball Academy.
T: 403-654-2145
todd.ojala@horizon.ab.ca
www.vauxhallbaseball.com

APPLIED RESEARCH AND RURAL HEALTH
Fund contribution is $565,700

Support for this new applied research and rural health initiative will help identify health needs and priorities in central Alberta. Red Deer College will manage the project through the auspices of a Rural Health Chair. The Chair will oversee research that will test, evaluate and demonstrate innovative rural health practices. Information and training will be provided to physicians, residents and service providers.

Project partners include David Thompson Health Region, the Association of Alberta Colleges and Technical Institutions, the Central Alberta Economic Partnership and Selkirk College.

Expected results include:

  • Enhanced, health-centred partnerships between researchers, industry and communities.
  • Local access to innovative health programs and leading edge applied research activities.
  • Better health outcomes for rural residents.
  • Innovation and improvement in rural health service delivery.

Contact: Ron Woodward, President & CEO, Red Deer College.
T: 403-342-3233
ron.woodward@rdc.ab.ca
www.rdc.ab.ca

GROWING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION IN NORTHWEST ALBERTA
Fund contribution is $3.4 million

This project will help entrepreneurs in northwest Alberta turn ideas and innovations into commercially viable services or products. The Centre for Research and Innovation (CRI) at Grande Prairie Regional College will manage the project, developing systems, operations and the people necessary to develop a ‘culture of innovation’ amongst Peace Region residents. The model to be developed by CRI will contribute to a knowledge based economy in the region and reduce economic dependence on natural resources.

Created in 2007, the Centre is a partnership between the Peace Region Economic Development Alliance and Grande Prairie Regional College. Other project partners include Western Economic Development, the Industrial Research Assistance Program and the Alberta Association of Colleges and Technical Institutes.

Expected results include:

  • A culture of innovation in the Peace Region.
  • Increased employment and employment income.
  • More markets and investment opportunities for Alberta products
  • Rural economic growth with a more diversified economic base.

Contact: Scott McAlpine, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science, Grande Prairie Regional College.
T: 780-539-2982
smcalpine@gprc.ab.ca
www.gprc.ab.ca