The Town of Strathmore is supporting Community Futures Wild Rose to execute a regional initiative to improve the digital economy within the Wild Rose region.
Kristen Shima, Town of Strathmore economic development officer, presented to council on Dec. 15, about the goals of the initiative.
“The program will help businesses increase their digital presence and capacity to address the economic challenges created by COVID-19,” said Shima.
Community Futures sought an additional small cash support of $1,950 for the digital economy program to run in 2022.
“This additional funding will support the administration of the program. Funds that are existing are coming from the 2021 economic development budget,” Shima explained. “The bulk of this funding is successful with $260,000 in cash and in kind from Western Economic Diversification Canada, with Community Futures.”
She added that the investment on the town’s part would have a “meaningful impact” for local and small businesses by increasing their digital footprint in a global economy.
“The more support layers we add on to our recovery, the stronger and more resilient we will be,” said Shima.
Councilor Denise Peterson said she had taken a keen interest in the initiative and what information had been made available regarding certain demographics and their introduction to a more digital environment.
“I read about this initiative with a tremendous interest, and my interest is within that economic process, but also speaks to what’s happened in this COVID-19 environment and what we’ve learned about marginalization of certain populations in terms of digitization and technology in general,” said Peterson. “When I talk about marginalizing, I see our area as part of that, not just because we have extensive rural connections that lend itself to that, but also through our partnership with Siksika (and) all kinds of things that that relate to being disadvantaged in terms of economy if you’re in rural Alberta today.”
Deputy Mayor Montgomery motioned for council to support the Community Futures Wild Rose Digital Economy Program in the amount of $1,950 with the funds to come from the existing economic development budget.
“I can attest to the fact that any money that we put towards Community Futures is multiplied many times throughout the community and the return on investment through Community Futures is quite substantial,” said Deputy Mayor Jason Montgomery.
Following the discussion, the motion was passed unanimously.