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Business Attraction

Business Attraction: are you ready to attract a new enterprise or industry to your municipality, or looking to retain existing businesses? 


Business Vitality Alberta (BVA) 
BVA is an easy-to-use tool designed to help you maximize your community’s business and economic vitality. BVA shows you how to solidly build a healthy community, support entrepreneurs, and foster small business growth.
BVA can be completed quickly without outside facilitation or expertise using a tried and true process to assess your community, and take meaningful action.

Tourism Vitality Alberta (TVA) 
Tailored to small communities, TVA allows municipalities to quickly assess strengths and weaknesses in tourism in seven key areas, determine action steps to strategically improve tourism, and access resources to further this important economic development opportunity. 
This toolkit also includes three tourism case studies from small communities (two from Alberta), and an accompanying video instruction guide.

Webinar on provincial Small Business Strategy 
In January 2015, AUMA hosted a webinar during which municipalities learned about the provincial Small Business Strategy. Provincial representatives provided an overview of, and answered questions about, this short-term action plan to address the needs of Alberta’s small businesses and share how the resources can support small businesses in your community. This resource, and other AUMA webinars, can be found here.

Economic Developers Alberta (EDA) 
The EDA has been committed to advancing the economic development profession by providing resources, professional development and networking opportunities. Their membership includes: municipalities, towns, regions, tourism groups, financial institutions, Crown Corporations, businesses and Regional Economic Development Authorities and Community Futures Development Corporations.  

Recovery and Resiliency Roadmap: A Toolkit for Economic Preparedness
EDA has designed a unique resource to help community leaders prepare for and recover from economic disasters. Called the Recovery and Resiliency Roadmap: A Toolkit for Economic Preparedness, it is a practical guide that provides strategies and tactics for community leaders to focus on for economic recovery and preserving jobs. The toolkit contains information on the following topics:

  • Disaster preparation measures i.e., building capacity for recovery
  • Assessing the economic impacts of a major disaster
  • Navigating the federal system of disaster assistance programs
  • Strategic planning for disaster recovery
  • Business retention and expansion before and after a disaster
  • Crisis communications
  • Small business assistance
  • Distressed neighbourhood revitalization post disaster
  • Economic diversification after a disaster

Investment Readiness Toolkit
This toolkit provides frameworks and practices to manage familiarization tours and other aspects of investment attraction. The Toolkit will assist communities to identify investment readiness gaps, develop new or improved economic development processes, and expand capacity for communities to attract, receive and successfully explore investment opportunities. This document has been developed by EDA in partnership with the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada. The Toolkit contains information on the following topics:

  • Understand investment: How does investment attraction work? 
  • What areas of your community are investment-ready; what areas are not?
  • Identify investment trends
  • Familiarization tours: How to identify your best chances for success
  • Aftercare:Best ways to stay engaged with your investors

Community Economic Development Training Program (CEDTP)
The CEDTP course series has been designed to:

  • Broaden and deepen the awareness and knowledge of economic development.
  • Provide knowledge, tools, resources, and support systems for those practicing economic development.
  • Define the function and applications of economic development, as well as make links to sustainable and balanced growth.
  • Deliver educational opportunities to those interested in certification and professional development in the field of economic development.
  • Provide skill development for those practicing economic development.

The following courses are available both in person and online:

  • Economic development – Learn the principles, theories, and fundamentals of economic development that form the basic foundation of every community. 
  • Business retention and expansion-Integrate effective assessment and planning tools in order to help you build and retain a strong business community.
  • Business and investment attraction-Discover the important role business and investment attraction plays in advancing your economic development strategy.

More information here

Northern Alberta Development Council (NADC) 
NADC’s mandate is to help northern communities with their economic needs.  NADC is made up of a dedicated group of provincial and local leaders and staff tasked with producing quality regional development information, supporting education and skills enhancement programs and building strategic partnerships.

Community Economic Development Toolkit  
This website contains a vast amount of valuable information for municipal governments and community organizations wanting to develop and implement economic development strategies. Resources on this site range from training and governance details, to budgeting and marketing guides.

Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta (FCSS)

Alberta Community and Co-operative Association (ACCA) 
Rural Community Leadership/CED Project Toolkit
This Community Economic Development toolkit was developed by ACCA for use by Alberta Community Economic Development Network Cooperative members and other practitioners in the CED sector. This toolkit provides practitioners engaged in CED with a set of resources, tools, and strategies to help facilitate effective best practices and sustainable initiatives within communities.

Provincial Resources

Renewable Energy Toolkit for Economic Development
This toolkit is designed to assist communities and especially community leaders in assessing possible projects. The province has developed the Renewable Energy Toolkit for Economic Development. The toolkit is a policy neutral document, designed to facilitate a better understanding of the basics of renewable energy to assist communities in beginning the due diligence process, and provide basic guidance for screening various projects.

Turning Strategies into Action: A Community Economic Development Guide
Many small communities have taken steps to broaden their economic development base through identifying opportunities and developing strategic planning processes. This guide provides advice to communities that wish to move previously commissioned strategic plans and other documents into clearly articulated community economic development initiatives.

Self Help Guide for Economic Development and Non-Profit Organizations
This guide was developed by Alberta Treasury Board and Enterprise to help establish and develop non-profit organizations and community economic development organizations. In it, you will find information on how to incorporate as a non-profit organization, how to develop appropriate strategic and operational plans, how to hire, monitor and evaluate staff, and more.

Inventory of Rural Community Economic Development Tools and Guides in Alberta and British Columbia
This consolidated list of tools and guides is intended to increase awareness of the array of resources available. Communities can choose the most appropriate tool or guide for their situation as they strive to be healthy and resilient communities.

Rural Alberta: Attracting and Retaining People
Small communities can attract and retain people by promoting the benefits of living and working in smaller communities (e.g. employment opportunities, lower living expenses, safe neighborhoods, and access to community health and recreation services). This document was developed as a resource to assist rural communities in Alberta wishing to attract and retain population to address their long-term economic needs. The document includes information and links to web based resources, initiatives, and programs. The document contains information on some best practices that have been developed by other countries. The document also reviews the literature on benefits, challenges, and strategic options to attract and retain population in rural communities.

Alberta Small Business Resources 
Alberta Small Business Resources is a directory of business resources for new and established entrepreneurs.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) 

Building Community Prosperity Through Local Economic Development: An Introduction to LED Principles and Practices
This guide helps local authorities and their partners in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors move forward in their efforts to foster a more stable and sustainable future for their communities.

Community Branding and Marketing
This Local Economic Development (LED) learning module and toolkit focuses on community branding and marketing—an important part of any LED strategy.

Chambers of Commerce

Alberta Chamber of Commerce (ACC)
Encouraging an active, engaged local Chamber is a useful way to enhance local economic development and ensure long-term sustainability. The Alberta Chamber is an umbrella organization that offers benefits for membership and useful tools and guidebooks.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC)
Like the ACC, the CCC offers member benefits and helpful publications. Both Chambers have the benefit of being able to advocate for and represent their members with a louder voice than an individual local Chamber possibly could.

Case Studies 

Included below are four examples of different routes Alberta communities have taken to local economic development. The first, Bashaw, shows how a locally-inspired tourism initiative can lead to a potentially new industry and bind a community together. The second case, the ICE group, is an example of three small likeminded municipalities pooling their resources and voices and achieving a common goal. Vulcan’s Business Development Society has chosen to adopt an innovative approach to business and economic development, hosting an incubator office and utilizing provincial and federal grants and initiatives to drive their community. Marwayne was able to see the opportunity available in a flooding disaster, revitalize their community, and address a longstanding brownfield issue. Also included are two of FCM’s Case Studies: Drayton Valley’s technology and business incubator, and Winnipeg’s strategy to define business opportunities and weaknesses.

These examples offer differing routes to a shared goal: economic development. Regardless if this is through new initiatives, shared resources, innovation, or a “silver-lining” perspective, they all serve to increase the community’s capacity, ensure the fundamental needs of a community are met, and increase the municipality’s profile and its appeal to a new or existing business.

Walk Among Us - Bashaw, Alberta

Walk Among Us was a historic walking tour of Bashaw, Alberta, conducted in 2012.
The tour was guided by a local woman portraying the wife of the founder of the town. During the tour, she introduced participants to several other historical figures portrayed by local people, including a farmer, a teacher, and a minister, all of whom entertained, engaged, and educated the participants.

“As the group arrived at the local legion, a war bride, Stella McIntyre, called out to the group and shared stories of her time in England during WWII where she met her Canadian husband. Stella provided an honest account of life as a young woman coming to Canada and starting a new life in Alberta.” (from Walk Among Us: The Bashaw Story, by Tourism Café, cited below)

The organizers hired a professional writer to create the scripts for the actors.

During the tour, the guide pointed out various attractions in town and encouraged the visitors to later wander and visit the farmers market, antique show and sale, art show and sale, car show, gospel choir performance, theatre performance, and museum. In each case, there was the opportunity to interact and get involved.

In other words, during the structured part of the experience (the walking tour) the guide gave the visitors cues about other things they could do during free time after the tour. 

The guided walk included a refreshment break with pies baked by local women and a chance for visitors to interact with them.
Although the walking tour was the signature experience, the other activities were designed to attract visitors for many more hours, thereby increasing the chances they would shop, stay the night, or tell their friends about the experience. 

The streets were closed to cars, to create the atmosphere of a quieter time with a slower pace of life. Walk Among Us was marketed to urbanites seeking a respite from their busy lives.

Walk Among Us was a community effort, with about 20 businesses and organizations involved in planning and production, and many volunteers including public works employees who volunteered to help with road barriers and parking.

The project included an extensive food experience including farmers markets and discussions with farmers. A local chef created special meals from local ingredients and a tea shop created a special blend of tea for the event. Many restaurants created new menus, leaving a legacy of better menus for future events. Walk Among Us inspired local merchants and restaurants to outdo themselves to come up with new products.


Bashaw: Walk Among Us
Issues and impetus  The Boomtown Trail’s (see below) character program was already in place, and Bashaw was identified as a town that could fit into it.
Challenges overcome Lack of funding and staffing was compensated for by a generous volunteer component and significant community involvement.
Success factors
  • Focus on the visitor experience. 
  • Visitors could connect with the people of the town.
  • Supporting activities were added.
  • Twenty businesses and community groups were involved.
  • The department of public works volunteered.
  • Free parking.
  • Food was a major ingredient in the experience.
  • A mix of components: history, culture, entertainment, food, lifestyle.
  • The streets were closed to traffic.
Replicability     The project has been replicated once in two other  towns, but not in Bashaw. Continued replicability would require a larger base of volunteers and/or greater support from outside funding sources. 
Innovations     See Success Factors above. The success factors can all be considered innovations.
Lesson learned
  • The project took such a huge volunteer effort that it seemed unfeasible to make it a repeated project.
  • Focusing on visitor experience rather than sightseeing was very effective.
What might they do differently Secure more funding to reduce dependency on volunteers.

Walk Among Us was a part of a larger tourism project, the Boomtown Trail, which encompasses several driving routes in Eastern Alberta. Boomtown is an itinerary of tourism experiences related to the history of the area, with dramatizations of local characters and history, and with several golf courses added to the mix. Walk Among Us, therefore, did not stand alone, but benefited from, and contributed to, a broader tourism experience of the region.  
Walk Among Us shared many of the characteristics of an effective tourism experiential tourism enterprise:


  • The experience was based on local history, culture, nature, art, customs, cuisine, or people that are already there, not imported. 
  • The experience was interactive, multi-faceted, and experiential, and it appealed to many of the senses, rather than just being a photo opportunity.
  • There was a clear target market demographic. 
  • The project was not dependent on major capital investment for infrastructure.
  • It was a result of partnerships within the community and engagement of the citizens.
  • It involved collaboration between neighbouring communities
  • The event contributed to community economic development by creating new business opportunities.

The information presented here was derived from an interview with two of the organizers and from Walk Among Us: The Bashaw Story, produced by Tourism Café and available at

Inter-Municipal Cooperation: ICE- Irma, Chauvin, and Edgerton, Alberta

In the early 2000s the three villages of Irma, Chauvin, and Edgerton banded together under the acronym ICE to accomplish mutually beneficial goals. ICE’s primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of resources, best practices and to submit joint grant applications. To a large degree ICE is coordinated by the respective village CAOs, but often with elected official involvement. 

There are quantifiable success indicators for the ICE initiative. These include shared public works projects and resources, shared property, bulk purchases and an agreed upon high degree of satisfaction. ICE’s success extends beyond tangible benefits. It is also notable as an example of three small municipalities, largely overshadowed by the largest regional municipality of Wainwright (which lies between Irma and Edgerton, with Chauvin to the extreme east), reaching the decision to collaborate amongst themselves to achieve goals otherwise out of a single village’s scope. This collaboration has led to lower costs and combined purchasing power, shared grant applications that meet population and need requirements and overall closer communication between the respective parties. 

Another success indicator of ICE is its high degree of replicability: any grouping of small municipalities can band together on certain projects to address mutual interests and needs, and collaborate to achieve common goals. ICE shows that mutual interest and mutual need can drive communication and lead to greater collaboration. This localized approach to regionalization can begin with a simple, single project –and extend into other projects as the needs and ease of collaboration develop.

More about ICE - Irma, Chauvin, Edgerton
Issues and impetus
  • Early 2000s, the three villages joined together to pool resources and develop local best practices. 
  • The three hoped to optimize their purchasing power for large projects and submit joint grant submissions, with the ultimate goal of saving taxpayers’ money.
Challenges overcome Geographic distance and schedule issues restricting opportunities to meet.
Success factors 
  • Shared water operator and shared public works projects
  • Information sharing and communication between public works departments
  • Shared property, such as a sewer camera
  • Bulk water purchase supplies
  • High degree of satisfaction with shared costs and communication channels being open
Replicability     The ICE initiative is highly replicable: any group of small, like minded and geographically close communities can join together to pursue cost saving measures and promote regional cooperation
Innovations     See Success Factors above. The success factors can all be considered innovations.
  • Effective planning and open communication are crucial.
  • Finding ways to capitalize on the respective strengths of group members.

Vulcan Business Development Society- Vulcan, Alberta

Marilyn MacArthur is Vulcan’s Business Development Society’s (VBDS) Manager of Business Development. Working alongside Marilyn are a resident grant writer and an assistant/social media coordinator. VBDS represents and serves the County and Town of Vulcan and five villages, providing business counselling, business retention and expansion strategies, and grant writing services. MacArthur is eager to recognize the enthusiasm and foresight of the VBDS and the municipalities it represents, who were “overwhelmingly supportive at the thought of myself working on an international level, sharing my expertise of 20 years, and raising the profile of not only our organization, VBDS, but the entire county.” 

Marilyn highlights the VBDS’s success as a technological innovator in the region and its goal of remaining the “most technology advanced rural community in Canada.” This long-term focus includes the town of Vulcan having just completed a Solar Park and the installation of an EVC electric vehicle charging station. The Solar Park, the first of its kind in Canada, will produce electricity while avoiding the often unappealing aesthetic associated with solar installations by acting as part of a larger community park and building community capacity for shared spaces. Initial funding was provided by the Alberta Energy Innovation Fund. 

VBDS is also home to three business incubator offices and is currently working on a new business retention and expansion project and a privately funded Connected Communities initiative that will align all municipal websites within Vulcan County.

Marwayne’s Centre Street Revitalization

This webinar, hosted by FCM’s Green Municipal Fund on brownfields, provides Marwayne’s CAO the opportunity to describe how the village used flooding and a vacant lot to pursue positive change in the community.

FCM Case Studies

Technology Parks and Incubation in Economic Development
The Town of Drayton Valley, Alberta works with the private sector to establish a bio-industry technology park and a business incubator, spurring local economic development. The guiding principles and lessons learned could be adapted to similar projects implemented in other sectors.

Business Retention and Expansion Programs
Winnipeg improves business retention and expansion by identifying issues affecting local businesses and potential business opportunities.

Webinar Recordings 

Promoting inclusive and sustainable LED
Former Brandon, Manitoba Mayor Shari Decter Hirst speaks to the importance for elected officials and municipalities to develop the local economy in an inclusive manner, to ensure that development benefits all citizens.

Promoting inclusive and sustainable LED
Scott Bowman, Senior Director (Ontario) at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, provides a national perspective on young entrepreneurs' unique qualities, and the importance of actively engaging youth in LED.