Economic developers court International Ambassadors

  • Mar. 23, 2011 10:00 a.m.

By GEORGE BROWN

Businesspeople from Ponoka and district had an opportunity last week to tap into a world of knowledge.

The Town of Ponoka’s economic development board, Red Deer Regional Economic Development and the Central Alberta Access Prosperity initiative co-sponsored an introduction to the International Ambassadors program for about 50 people interested in becoming “global business leaders, influencers and decision-makers.”

The International Ambassador Program (IAP), launched in 2010, is a network of business leaders and decision makers who have an active interest in promoting international trade and investment in Central Alberta.

“The idea behind the IAP is that local businesses are the experts on successful business practices in Central Alberta,” explained Erin Gates, Central Alberta: Access Prosperity spokesperson. “When speaking face-to-face with potential investors, their authentic expertise really sells the region.”

Gates sees Access Prosperity as a one-stop shop companies looking for information and opportunities.

“We’re here to help businesses grow and succeed in the region.”

Danielle Klooster, manager of policy, advocacy and communications with the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, invited potential ambassadors “to work with us to be the people on the ground to help us integrate new businesses into the region and also when you are in your travels, to help promote the region.”

While acting as a resource to Central Alberta: Access Prosperity‘s foreign direct investment project, International Ambassadors also benefit from increased company profile and visibility, exclusive access to international business development opportunities, and knowledge exchange and collaboration. Klooster said Access Prosperity is responsible for marketing materials and strategies to attract foreign investment to the region and develop partnerships”

The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) project is a major economic development initiative which received federal funding through the Community Futures Rural Diversification Initiative. FDI is supported by the IAP with attracting inbound delegations and trade missions, and identifying and facilitating new business development opportunities.

Klooster said foreign interest in central Alberta is welcome “whether that’s in joint ventures, transfer of technology and know-how, strategies, alliances or activity having a business from elsewhere come and expand into the region.”

Local businesspeople were also told about Futurallia, a business development opportunity coming up in Kansas City, Mo. More than 800 entrepreneurs from 95 countries will meet one-on-one over two days in May. It’s a process known as business speed dating or business matchmaking.

Typically, the Red Deer region is overlooked because international companies tend to gravitate to Calgary and Edmonton. “We have a lot of capacity too,” Klooster said. “We have a lot of land and we have businesses and a lot of strengths but we just weren’t getting noticed.

But with 41 municipalities working together under the Central Alberta Economic Partnership, the region and all it has to offer is being noticed.

International Ambassadors also had the opportunity to get the behind-the-scenes sneak peek of Ponoka’s new multi-purpose Ag Event Centre, Alberta Flares Energy Services Ltd. and Almita Manufacturing Ltd.