Rocky View County’s (RVC) Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF) has arrived at several strategies to help the County rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chief Administrative Officer Al Hoggan.
“With crisis comes opportunity,” Hoggan said. “The County is determined to leverage lessons learned and emerge from the public health crisis stronger than ever.”
During a regular meeting Nov. 10, Hoggan updated RVC council on ERTF’s work this year.
“It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered many facets of life for the residents and business community of RVC,” Hoggan said. “However, the pandemic has also demonstrated the willingness of our community to pull together, help each other and do the right thing to protect the health of our friends, family and neighbours.”
The task force was established in May and included councillors, local business leaders and County administration. It was directed to investigate potential actions for businesses, residents and the County to stimulate economic recovery, as well as recommend processes that “may build resilience in the face of future public health crises.”
According to Hoggan, the task force recommended options in four categories. To enhance connections between business, prospective employees and consumers, RVC will develop a “how-to guide” to assist rural addressing requests for Canada Post and search engines like Google.
Along the same lines, Hoggan said at some point in the second quarter of 2021, the County will promote workshops with Amazon, Shopify, Lightspeed and other digital economy support organizations to educate and facilitate online retail and digital commerce for RVC businesses.
A comprehensive marketing plan is intended to encourage the participation of elected officials at local grand openings, ribbon cutting events, press releases and industry events. As a part of the comprehensive marketing plan, the County plans to use multiple channels – including television, radio, newspapers, social media, print media and public service announcements – to advertise what is going on in the County. The marketing campaign is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2021.
The third set of recommendations related to reducing red tape. The County plans to examine the regulatory actions and changes of other municipalities in response to economic recovery from COVID-19, while also identifying new business needs and practices as a result of the pandemic that may result in different permit requirements.
Hoggan said a rebrand may also play an important part in the County’s strategy moving forward. The rebrand is set to kick-off in early 2021.
“We want to incorporate that we are open for business and community growth,” he said. “Somehow, today, our brand doesn’t talk about our openness to business. I think we are actually talking about how we do things in the County, not just a logo.”
Prior to the pandemic, Hoggan noted, RVC had proven to be an attractive destination for business investment. He said the County’s assessment base has grown by $5.2 billion – from $13.5 billion to $18.7 billion – over the last 10 years. During the same period, the County’s non-residential assessment base tripled from $1.1 billion to $3.3 billion.
The task force also made recommendations for enhanced connections with investors, developers and decision-makers, with the goal of raising the profile for RVC.
Coun. Al Schule – one of two councillors who sat on the task force – thanked Hoggan for starting the task force, which he felt was productive.
“There was a lot of great ideas,” he said. “I think some of the discussions we had are going to be very helpful.”