Edmonton approves new economic development entity. What does that mean for Northlands?

City council unanimously approved Monday the creation of a separate innovation entity to support entrepreneurs and Edmonton’s tech and knowledge economies.

The decision comes after about two years of discussion and engagement about how Edmonton attracts business and streamlining that model to reduce duplication. The creation of the new arms-length entity means reallocating roles currently under the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.

“Council is confident that these changes will result in better outcomes for business and for investment and for innovation in our city,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

The city will recruit a board and a CEO that will deliver “the support entrepreneurs are looking for,” Iveson said.

EEDC would focus on tourism and conventions. The new economic development entity would focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, the tech and knowledge economies. Edmonton Global would focus on promoting metro Edmonton internationally, by working with regional partners.

There was also talk Monday about that new entity — or another Edmonton tourism body — potentially taking on K-Days and Farmfair International at the Expo.

Coun. Tony Catarina pointed out that Northlands historically accessed federal grant money, and wanted to make sure this city-run entity could do the same.

Iveson said collaborating with Northlands on running K-Days or Farmfair is not a new discussion and there’s been suggestions of consolidation opportunities with Edmonton Tourism.

“For many years now, there have been challenges as the organization has adjusted to changing realities,” he said, adding the most recent was a funding cut from the provincial government.

Iveson said Northlands saw a cut in support (as an agricultural organization) that the Calgary Stampede did not see.

“To the extent that Northlands hosts a number of events, including K-Days… We don’t lose Farmfair and the ability to have a major summer fair… it’s timely that Northlands is willing to work with the City of Edmonton on coming together.”

Councillors approved the new innovation entity unanimously, reallocating $11 million from the EEDC towards it. About $5 million per year is being reallocated to fund it, starting in 2021.

Iveson explained resources are being “re-prioritized and restructured to get best results going forward without injecting new dollars into the system.”

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