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  • City investing in supporting local businesses 

    The Community Futures Wild Rose Digital Economy Program Regional Initiative will assist local businesses and not-for-profits in increasing their digital presence

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    Chestermere City Council carried a motion to provide a letter of support for Community Futures Wild Rose (CFWR) Digital Economy Program Regional Initiative, and a financial contribution of $3,700, during the Oct. 5 Regular Meeting of Council.

    The Digital Economy Program Regional Initiative is being funding by Business Link in collaboration with partners who provide support for local businesses throughout the province.

    “Participating small businesses will learn to use and maintain digital tools to adopt practices, that are essential to succeed in today’s competitive environment,” said CFWR Community Economic Development Officer, Wendy Gerbrandt. 

    “CFWR is very interested in participating in our 16 communities throughout our region,” she said.

    The total value of the project is estimated at $200,000, however, the city’s financial contribution of $3,700 will assist local businesses and not-for-profits in increasing their digital presence.

    “The $3,700 that we’re asking to contribute does allow us to offset costs we were not anticipating in this project to appear when it did. We’re looking at a goal of approximately 80 businesses,” Gerbrandt said.

    CFWR is being provided $27,300 from Business Link that will be used to hire students and provide supports that are needed to project manage.

    “That goes to support Chestermere with the goal of reaching 80 businesses. The additional $3,700 covers the full costs that are going straight to Chestermere,” Gerbrandt said.

    “Given the state of the economy and given that a lot of businesses limitations with technology this is a valuable way to spend some money,” said City Councillor Yvette Kind.

    The Digital Economy Program Regional Initiative is anticipated to launch between December 2021 and January 2022 and will conclude by March 31, 2023.

    The outcomes of the Digital Economy Program Regional Initiative are for local businesses to receive one on one support for their digital business needs, municipalities can concentrate their marketing on desired targets within the eligibility requirements of the program, relationship-building among businesses, and CFWR, and access to reporting. 

    “We’re purposing to project manage, we have reached out to our partners, we will be proposing to hire a team of youth to help us give support to the businesses to increase their digital or online presence,” Gerbrandt said.

    Throughout the year, the CFWR supported local businesses in Chestermere with phone calls for business counselling services, and training events during Small Business Week. 

    “I feel we have done a very good job of presenting and working closely with the Chestermere Chamber of Commerce,” Gerbrandt said. 

    “Anything that we can do to help our businesses is important. There hasn’t been a very good track record of community future supporting our local businesses,” said Chief Administrator

     Officer (CAO) Bernie Morton.

    Morton added the city needs guarantees that the Digital Economy Program Regional Initiative is going to support local businesses. 

    “If we can get the guarantees, I’m happy to find ways within our own team to provide support, because our local businesses need that support. We need some form of commitment and dedication from community futures to work with our Chamber of Commerce to help them and some of the initiatives,” Morton said.

    Adding, “I’m glad the initiative was brought forward, I’m happy to support it in terms of the things that require the CAO’s support, but it goes both ways, we need some wins here from community futures.”