Alberta SW at a Glance
- Member Communities 15
- Area 15,174 km2
- Population 36,549
- Major Projects Value $1.9 billion
- Number of Businesses 3,097
- Key Industries Agriculture, Energy, Tourism
- Website AlbertaSouthWest.com
Source: Government of Alberta, Alberta SW
Over the last two years Alberta’s economy has faced unprecedented challenges, but the Alberta SouthWest Regional Economic Development Alliance (Alberta SW) is looking beyond the pandemic to celebrate two decades of award-winning collaboration among its 15-member municipalities.
Those years have been marked by growth in renewable energy, including Canada’s largest solar installation and the expansion of wind power. And the region’s agricultural industry is proving to be just as innovative as it focuses on value-add opportunities.
Alberta SW’s cultural and natural resources are also flourishing. With Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and its environs — the Crown of the Continent — as well as national parks and three UNESCO world heritage sites, the region has many outstanding experiences to offer its residents and visitors. And it’s ideally situated “where the Prairies meet the Rockies” to optimize the increased demand for outdoor recreation that has been inspired by the pandemic. As Bev Thornton, executive director of Alberta SW, contends, “The region’s visitor economy, energy industry, clean technology development and value-added agriculture are interrelated and serve to create unique, multi-sector opportunities, attracting the interest of new investors.”
With more people shifting to remote working and increasingly seeing the virtues of living in small communities outside of crowded cities, Alberta SW is championing its rural environment, which has seen an influx of new residents and applications for business licences.
During the pandemic, “We have learned to think inside the box,” says Thornton. This means keeping the focus close to home and implementing campaigns and programs to support local products, services and businesses.
But perhaps the region’s greatest asset, as stated by Thornton, is its people and their capacity for collaboration. “More than ever, we value our local talent and resources, and the role we all have in generating creative approaches to new challenges.”