INSPIRING & ASPIRING: A column from Economic Development Lethbridge

By: Erin Crane, Director Investment Attraction, Economic Development Lethbridge /@chooseleth

One of the biggest advantages to living and conducting business in the Lethbridge region is the vast array of sectors that contribute to the growth and economic stability in the region. With the latest release of the Mid-Sized Cities Report from the Conference Board of Canada, we know that over the past five years Lethbridge’s GDP has grown over 20 per cent in the manufacturing, construction, and transportation & warehousing sectors. That’s great news! Every sector plays an important role in the overall health of a region.

The Lethbridge region has a long history of being an agriculture production, distribution and service centre. Agriculture is one of our key industries. Our partnerships are extremely important and provide us the ability to tell our story to larger audiences.

EDL is involved in Canada’s Premier Food Corridor. Economic Development Lethbridge, Lethbridge County, The Town of Coaldale, the Town of Taber and the Municipal District of Taber are all partners in this initiative. Collectively, this represents over a 50 km stretch between Lethbridge and Taber.

Our region is home to many large key processors and niche innovators that create a breadbasket not only for the province but the country and even out to the rest of the world. The hashtag we promote is #SouthernAlbertaFeedsTheWorld and the primary purpose of the corridor is to spread awareness of what currently exists in the region. One of the Food Corridor goals is to ensure that more of the economic benefit of products grown in the region is retained locally and not shipped elsewhere to be processed and then brought back to Canada to be sold at a higher price. We want products to be grown, processed and packaged locally in our region with a Canadian brand which means higher value products.

Another organization we are involved with is the Plant Protein Alliance of Alberta.  This organization was formed in response to the increased interest in plant-based proteins and their associated value-added opportunities. They work with the Protein Industries Canada Supercluster through the federal government and focus on opportunities for Alberta. More than 85 per cent of Canada’s pulse production is exported to feed the world.  The Food Corridor and the Plant Protein Alliance of Alberta are working to do more processing locally. It gives producers full control of the materials in addition to creating jobs within the region, so it would be a win on multiple levels.

Accomplishing any project takes great partnerships and collaboration; we are proud of our relationship with Farming Smarter. The team at Farming Smarter helps the region’s producers make informed choices around inputs, technology and management practices for their operations. Every August, Farming Smarter hosts Open Farm Days to showcase what the agriculture sector has to offer in a fun and interactive experience.  Their annual conference held in Lethbridge in December is a great way to connect with local producers.

Another piece to the puzzle is to ensure we are innovating at a pace that allows our region to keep up on a global level. EDL operates a technology incubator called Tecconnect and it’s a hub of ideas and collaboration in the region. With training in programs such as emerging technology, entrepreneurship, and coding, we’re equipping individuals with skills that are common practice in the Agriculture sector.

Agriculture is always changing and innovating, and with the help of our partners and key stakeholders we want to make sure Lethbridge and region continue to be a hub not only provincially, but within Canada and International markets. Our new community brand, Lethbridge Brighter Together, is an ideal way to support our continued work in agriculture. We have the people, the world-class post-secondary institutions, and a thriving innovation community that all come together to showcase the Lethbridge region as a thriving agricultural hub.
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