A strategic approach to municipal economic development: a case study of the Municipal District of Big Lakes, Alberta
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AbstractThis Master's Degree Project applies a strategic approach to municipal economic development in a rural Municipal District in Northern Alberta. It explores the distinct challenges facing rural communities in the current economic climate, and reviews past and current approaches to economic development in rural settings. It places an emphasis on the roles of local governments, strategic planning, and collaboration in successful local economic development, and attempts to develop practical short-term to mid-term solutions that will enable the local government to better position itself for economic development. A proactive and strategic approach based on key informant interviews and data analysis is employed. Objectives include: researching best practices; undertaking a local economic assessment (with an emphasis on understanding the role of key regional sectors); undertaking economic development opportunity identification; and providing recommendations on how the local government can facilitate long-term economic development. Findings reveal the need to continue down the path of further economic diversification and job creation. The study assumes that it is imperative for the emerging innovation and competitiveness agenda to extend beyond high technology industries to Canada's traditional industries, such as forestry and agriculture. Furthermore, the report concludes that it will not be one major economic opportunity but a combination of many small and varied economic opportunities that has the potential to improve the long-term economic base of the region. Recommendations are aimed at fostering local business growth, developing organizational capacity, undertaking marketing and promotion, and fostering partnership building with neighbouring local government. A variety of strategies for implementation are identified, ranging from modest initiatives, such as implementing a benchmarking framework and establishing a "one-stop shopping" information area, to joining a regional alliance and creating an economic development body or position.
Bibliography: p. 183-192