Paving the way for economic prosperity in Prince Albert

Tyler Clarke
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City council joined administration in creating a City of Prince Albert Economic Development Strategic Plan earlier this year.

City Hall

What do you think of when you think of Prince Albert?

The city’s elected officials joined administration earlier this year in compiling the following list of answers they’d like to hear people respond with:

Regional hub for services, shopping, arts and culture; Progressive; Business

friendly; Accessible; Economically advantaged; Great facilities; Outstanding customer service; Affordable; Clean and safe; Diverse; Functional; Community-minded.

These messages are part of the recently adopted City of Prince Albert Economic Development Strategic Plan, which the Daily Herald was provided a copy of this week.

Summarizing the document, Coun. Rick Orr concluded that there’s much to be done in pushing the “forgotten opportunity” of Prince Albert toward becoming a realized one.

People “may be so focused on what’s happening around the province that they’ve forgotten that we’ve got some real advantages where we are,” he concluded.

“I believe in my soul that Prince Albert’s a real golden opportunity for the investor and the developer.”

The strategic plan comes as a result of a strategic planning session held on March 5, with members of city council and administration hashing out the city’s long-term economic vision.

Narrowing their focus on a few areas -- keys to the city’s economic prosperity -- the document reiterates the city’s “Gateway to the North” status as well as the importance of branding and marketing.

The regional nature of Prince Albert is apparent when you see the types of businesses the city is able to attract, city manager Jim Toye said, citing the Mr. Mike's Steakhouse currently under construction in the Cornerstone Shopping District as a recent example.

The plan notes that area success means city success, and that the city needs to work more closely with surrounding municipalities on things like infrastructure and cost sharing, planning development and investment attraction.

 “If we want to be the hub of this area, we think it’s important for us to create synergy and partnerships with the surrounding municipalities -- urban or rural,” Toye said.

“The success that we can create is through collaboration and partnerships -- strength in many,” city planning and development director Rick Stuckenberg added.

“We felt that the city would grow organically with growth in the region.”

“Historically, this has always been the gathering place,” Orr-- chair of the Regional Economic Development Action Committee -- said in agreement with the plan’s findings.

I believe in my soul that Prince Albert’s a real golden opportunity for the investor and the developer. Rick Orr

Tied directly with regional partnerships is the idea of branding and marketing of Prince Albert as both a city and region, Orr said -- something that must be done in conjunction with surrounding partners.

Branding of Prince Albert and its surrounding area “will be a very interesting exercise,” Stuckenberg said. “That will help us get our message out – what are the unique attributes of P.A.?

“It could be slogans, it could be logos – it’s how we want to brand. When people see that, what do they think of the city of Prince Albert?” Toye asked.

“What we’ve heard from a lot of people – from the business community, business leaders, tourism, the Chamber, is that what we have -- the status quo -- is not really (enough) so we need something more splashy.”

Key to whatever branding initiative the city takes on will be finding the funding necessary to follow through, Orr said.

“We’re a community that hasn’t spent much on economic development, and I think we need to build a case that says we need to do that,” he encouraged.

The next big step will be for the Prince Albert area to adopt an economic development strategic plan as a region, aligning themselves toward a common good, Stuckenberg concluded.

“I see this as a path of convergence. We’re bringing forward a number of parallel initiatives that are leading us in a whole new direction to create a pathway to prosperity,” he said -- a sentiment Toye added is open to interpretation.

“It could be businesses -- large industrial -- it could be small business, it could be retention of existing business we have, and if there’s a niche where they can expanded,” he said. “We want to be open to all areas of growth.”

The City of Prince Albert Economic Development Strategic Plan concludes that a more “proactive approach” is required to drive economic prosperity.

“Prince Albert has a much stronger trade area than population would suggest and investors are beginning to understand that markets in the prairies act far differently than metropolitan blocks of population,” the report concludes.

“Prince Albert has enormous potential to continue its rapid development and truly become a one stop hub for stakeholders.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Daily Herald, Regional Economic Development Action Committee

Geographic location: Prince Albert Economic Development Strategic Plan, Montana, Cornerstone Shopping District

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