File photo

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Town’s Economic Development Strategy outdated considering COVID-19

Council votes to endorse strategy as a guideline, rather than as a whole

The town approved its new Economic Development Strategy during its regular meeting on Aug. 11, as a guideline for future discussions and strategies, as it found that once complete, it didn’t really reflect the current state of things considering the ongoing pandemic.

“The research and creation of the Economic Development Strategy was all completed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett in a prepared statement.

“The world has changed a lot since then and Council felt that some elements of the Strategy may not currently be relevant to the needs of our community due to the impacts that COVID-19 has had on our economy.

As an example, Bonnett points to the Retail Gap Analysis included in the strategy, that states that Ponoka could support more retail space in its downtown, and provides suggestions on the types of new retailers and restaurants the town could try to attract.

“Given the state of our local economy, this recommendation may not be as relevant for our community at this moment in time as it was prior to the pandemic,” said Bonnett.

“This is why, rather than formally endorsing the Economic Development Strategy as a whole, council preferred that it be used as a guideline for future discussions and strategies as appropriate.”

Administration will bring back relevant components of the strategy annually for council’s review and consideration during budget deliberations as appropriate, depending on the state of the local economy at that time, he says.

“It’s also important to note that the New Resident Attraction and Incentive Program, which the town will be rolling out in the coming weeks, is based on a recommendation in the Economic Development Strategy to undertake a marketing strategy to promote the community to new residents and businesses.

“This is an example of how the town is already incorporating some elements of the Economic Development Strategy that are immediately relevant to our community’s needs.”

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