Hanna receives $450,000 for economic diversification
After months of waiting, the community of Hanna received some support as they face a future without coal.
Community Action to Create Diversification, on Monday, received a grant of $450 ,000 from the Alberta Government to create Community Action teams. This is a partnership among the Town of Hanna, residents, local business leaders and economic development experts to attract investment and create new jobs for local economic diversification, according to a press release.
“The Town of Hanna has a proud history of helping power a prosperous and industrious province. We want that to continue so people here can build a good life for themselves and their families. We know that Canada’s move away from coal has created a lot of uncertainty – that’s why we are working with local leaders and residents to support their made-in-Hanna plan for a resilient, diversified economy,” said Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade. Mayor of Hanna, Chris Warwick, says the announcement is a good first step.
“When we did our opportunity study, which we approved earlier this spring, it identified some opportunities we could probably get going on right away, but there is going to be a few costs incurred. So now we can get the community involved, we can hold a town hall meeting and get some of these things in place and working on them right away,” said Warwick.
The Town of Hanna is planning to host community meetings to establish the teams. These teams will be led by the Cactus Corridor Economic
Development Corporation, which includes members from the Town of Hanna, the Special Areas Board, the Village of Youngstown and the Hanna Learning Centre. The teams will also collaborate with the Rural Alberta Business Centre in Hanna, which helps more than 65 entrepreneurs and startups in the area each year.
“We accomplish more when we work together, and when it comes to creating new local economic opportunities during this transition, local people know best. Residents here have shared their ideas with our task force, and getting funding for this project means we can make those ideas a reality in various economic sectors of opportunity. Rural communities have always been important to this province, and when our economies do well, Alberta does well,” said Trisha Sewell, economic development officer, Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation.
This week Bilous held meetings in coal affected communities to allow those facing the changes to have their voices heard. MLA Rick Strankman attended one of the meetings in Hanna on Sunday night.
He says diversification might come through agriculture.
“I have been trying to lever for other opportunities whether it be irrigation or agricultural development, and that sort of benefit we could bring forward,” he said.
Warwick says the Advisory Panel on Coal communities has yet to file its final report, and he hopes there is more support coming when it makes its recommendations.
“There better be. This is not even close to enough. This is something. We have had a few companies interested in setting up some industry in our region, If we could have a little bit of a competitive advantage it would certainly go a long way to encourage some of these companies to invest here,” said Warwick.
Another factor are the plans of the operators of the facility. While the federal government has set 2029 as the deadline to end coal fired, generation, ATCO has indicated it wished to move the deadline up substantially.
“Until ATCO really comes up with their final plan there is still a lot up in the air,” said Warwick.
The Advisory Panel on Coal Communities is expected to complete its report this fall.
Chris Warwick Mayor of Hanna