As communities across central and eastern Alberta undergo an economic shift away from coal-fired power generation, the role of small business is at the forefront of building new opportunities and managing the recovery.
The transition is part of a Federal initiative to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030. In Alberta, this means that 12 of the 18 coal-fired power plants will either shift away from coal or shut down over the next decade.
"A very ancient quote says, 'The only constant in life; is change' ", says Doray Veno, Executive Director of the Hanna Learning Centre. "But once you make internal peace with this concept, the opportunities are endless."
Many communities, like Hanna, are already experiencing the economic impact, and the Community Futures program in Alberta is mobilizing to help bring expertise in job transition and community resiliency to those on the frontlines.
Community Futures Meridian has formed a key partnership with the Hanna Learning Centre (HLC) to be a primary resource for those wanting to explore or grow opportunities in self-employment. Community Futures will be an anchor tenant of a newly renovated Business HUB, which will provide enhanced services for new and existing businesses in addition to professional co-working space.
"Great opportunities don’t always present themselves in the calmness of a day – they usually come because we are forced to change," says Vickie Newmeyer of Community Futures Meridian Region. "And we hope we can assist both the businesses and the communities impacted by the coal transition in managing and preparing strategically for difficult changes."
Community Futures programs in Meridian Region, Capital Region, East Parkland and East Central Alberta have joined forces to address this significant change in the Alberta economy. The two-year initiative, funded by Western Economic Diversification Canada, is designed to assist communities as they transition away from employment centered around coal-fired power generation.
Recovery Through Resiliency
Modeled off other successful disaster-recovery programs in Alberta, this targeted program is focused on deploying skilled local coordinators and coaches to connect with regional governments and development agencies to identify workers who are interested in transitioning into self-employment. It also provides coaching and training for existing businesses impacted by the economic shifts in their communities.
Community Futures has over 30 years of experience helping communities and entrepreneurs enhance their skills, and offer tools and resources to gain confidence and resilience. The Community Futures program specializes in supporting small businesses from the ground up and being a partner in projects that ensure healthy and vibrant rural communities.