The previous council made some progress in terms of economic development throughout its tenure, but recently an economic development exploitation project proposal was accepted that has the capacity to shake things up a bit.
Of course, the council still has the option of deciding whether or not to include this proposal to change the course of local economic development in the final 2022 operating budget.
The Council’s proposal. Brian Laberge focuses on economic development with measurable targets by providing a local or regional economic development service through a strategic local business partner.
Part of the proposal is to cut funding for the Town of Hinton Economic Development Department, a department that is only two years old, in half.
The proposal suggests shifting responsibilities for economic development to a shared regional position that could divide its time by focusing on local and regional initiatives.
Com. Albert Ostashek expressed his concerns after the presentation of the proposal regarding the loss of the Economic Development Department and with it the progress of the Town of Hinton Economic Development Strategy (BDS) which was developed in 2018. In response , the board. Stuart Taylor suggested that the regional initiative could take part of this strategy with a more focused and measurable approach.
“The current strategy is still in use and the current goals are influenced by the 2018 plan. The relevance of the 2018 strategy document is under review,” said Carla Fox, director of corporate services at Hinton.
A goal of responsible growth, development and diversification for the Town of Hinton was established in Council’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021. As part of this, the Council planned to grow and diversify Hinton’s economy through the creation of a BDS and collaboration through partnerships.
The DHS was established over four months in 2018 with financial assistance from a provincial CARES grant. The first draft of the DHS and action plan was presented on November 27, 2018.
The Hinton and Region Economic Development Coalition (HREDC), of which Laberge was a board member, provided guidance as a steering committee for the development of this document which provides goals and recommendations for municipal program delivery. economic development, support and service delivery. . One of their recommendations was to add a full-time position focused on DHS.
As part of the 2019 Budget deliberations, the board added $ 100,000 to the CAO’s Office of Economic Development Operations to support the implementation of the DHS. This $ 100,000 provided funds for an economic development post.
On February 5, 2019, the board approved the DHS and the action plan. At the same meeting, the administration recognized that a full-time equivalent (FTE) economic development position would require additional funds of over $ 100,000 per year to cover all costs associated with an additional hire, which would have financial implications for the 2020 budget and beyond.
That spring, the City published a staffing announcement welcoming a new economic development officer (ADE) as of June 3, 2019.
In September, the EDO presented a Retail Pitch Deck, developed to market Hinton and provide relevant information to potential new or local investors. That same month, he also presented the request for proposal process to select a consultant to perform a geotechnical site assessment on McMillan lands.
The economic development budget increased from $ 149,598 in 2019 to $ 209,528 in 2020 and to $ 210,540 in 2021 after including revenues. The 2021-2023 operational plan, which was approved along with the 2021 operational budget, provided for a total economic development budget for 2022 of $ 208,404.
Expenses included in this budget include contract and general services, materials, goods, supplies and utilities, operational projects, transfers to local boards and agencies, as well as salaries, wages and benefits. With most expenses fluctuating, the salaries section increased by $ 34,000 in 2020.
The administration will present a business case to the board in January, outlining options for the future of Hinton’s economic development.
The proposals will be discussed in more detail on January 14 and 15 in the context of the proposed full operating budget. Any proposal can then be submitted to the regular Council meeting on February 1 for decision.