Town to apply for rural entrepreneur, language grants

By Rob Vogt – Local Press Writer
The town’s economic development officer will apply to the Alberta Advantage Rural Entrepreneur Stream and apply to the Alberta Settlement Integration and Language Partnerships Grant, Building Community Capacity Stream, in partnership with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society and Willow Creek Immigrant Services.
At its Oct. 11 meeting, council reviewed a report prepared by Brady Schnell, the town’s economic development officer.
The report stated Claresholm Economic Development has been considering full-time offers of employment to foreign nationals with the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot since March, 2020. In that time, the Economic Development Committee has issued 44 community recommendations, benefiting 21 local employers.
If you include the family members of these skilled workers, it represents 122 invitations to come live and work in Claresholm. In a recent announcement, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot was extended by 18 months, providing the opportunity to continue recommending full-time job placements until August, 2024.
Foreign national business owners who are self-employed, those who would like to purchase an existing business, or those who want to open a new business in Claresholm do not qualify for the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.
The Alberta government has opened two new immigration pathways under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program – the Rural Renewal and Rural Entrepreneur streams.
While the Rural Renewal stream is very similar to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, the Rural Entrepreneur stream provides new opportunity.
If approved, Economic Development Claresholm could operate the Rural Entrepreneur stream in parallel with the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, allowing the community to recruit entrepreneurs as well as skilled workers.
At least 10 communities in Alberta have been approved for three years of the Rural Renewal Stream and/or Rural Entrepreneur Stream. Like the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, no financial funding is included in the provincial approval.
However, funding for retention and inclusion is available through the Settlement Integration and Language Partnerships.
The Economic Development Officer has consulted with a dozen communities on rural immigration, and has contacts that can help produce a successful application to Alberta’s Rural Entrepreneur stream.
Currently, the Economic Development Department has funding for the diversity and engagement coordinators until March 26, 2023. A second round of funding is now open for applications, and Calgary Catholic Immigration Society is pleased to partner with the town on another 24-month project that would continue to fund the diversity and engagement coordinators.
Claresholm has become renowned as a leader in rural immigration, and in the opinion of the Economic Development Officer, has a strong likelihood of success to get further funding to continue the work.
Council then agreed to direct the economic development officer to apply for both grants.