The town has earmarked $50,000 for a program designed to help boost economic development in Rimbey, but the mayor is not sure if there is enough interest to make the program viable.
The Rimbey Chamber of Commerce executive is exploring the possibility of starting an incubator program here. This project involves providing a large commercial space, dividing it into smaller areas and allowing small businesses to set up shop there.
Businesses would be charged rent at market value, have access to mentoring services and receive promotional suggestions and encouragement.
However, council will not fork over the money until the chamber of commerce has a business plan in place.
Pankiw also would like to see more interest shown in the project. He said the majority of those in attendance at a meeting regarding the incubator program held last week were from the chamber, the town and the county.
“I would have liked to see more business people there,” he said. “I have listened to this presentation before and so far I have not seen interest from the public.
Maybe it’s not something that will work here which is too bad. I’ve seen the one in Rocky and I know that one is a total success.”
Chamber president Jackie Stratton said the chamber is working on the business plan, but needs to get the go-ahead from its members before proceeding further.
“If the majority of our members vote ‘yes’, we will steam ahead,” she said.
Stratton said the incubator program encompasses new and existing businesses.
“It would be for the expansion and retention of existing businesses whether they be on Main Street or a home based business or agricultural. And it would not be tailored exclusively to entrepreneurs. We want to make it doable and accessible for everyone,” she said.
Michelle Andrishak, manager of the incubator program in Rocky Mountain House spoke at last week’s meeting. Terry Vaughan, community development officer for Culture, Alberta, also gave a presentation and will present a report to the chamber at a later date.
Some of the businesses in Rocky Mountain House who participated in the incubator program were Pure Healthy Essential Oils, That Game Store, KES Graphic Designs, Cougar Ridge Bookkeeping, Coldwell Banker Realty and Deep Reflections, a registered psychologist.
For more information about the incubator program contact Jackie Stratton at 403-843-2727 or Carrie Vaartstra at 403-843-2944.