The Rural Alberta Business Centre (RABC) Pilot Program is a partnership between the Government of Alberta and local organizations actively involved with the business community.
As part of the three-year program, RABCs will provide advice and information services to entrepreneurs and small businesses to assist them in making informed business decisions.
What services do RABCs offer?
The rural business centres provide services to entrepreneurs, small business owners, and managers at all stages of the business life cycle from the start-up to expansion to succession planning.
Each rural business centre is staffed by a small business advisor who assists in providing one-on-one business advice, seminars, workshops, and access to relevant information about small businesses and business opportunities. Information and materials will be tailored to the specific needs of the communities served by each RABC.
While most services are free, a small fee may apply to some educational offerings.
Please visit one of the eight RABC offices or websites for more in depth information and service offerings.
Why was the RABC Pilot Program developed?
The RABC Pilot Program was developed to enhance access to timely and relevant small business services in rural Alberta and determine how to best provide these services in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
What is the duration of the pilot?
The pilot program will run from January 2012 to December 2014.
Who are the partner organizations?
As part of the pilot, a variety of partnerships are being tested to determine which types of organizations are best positioned to manage and support an RABC. Current partners include Community Futures offices, Chambers of Commerce, a Regional Economic Development Alliance, a community learning centre, and municipalities.
Which communities have been selected to participate?
The following eight communities are participating in the pilot program.
- Camrose, in partnership with Community Futures East Central Alberta
- Cold Lake, in partnership with the Northeast Alberta Information HUB Ltd., the local Regional Economic Development Alliance in the area
- Fort Macleod, in partnership with the Town of Fort Macleod
- Hanna, in a partnership with the Hanna and District Association for Lifelong Learning
- Grande Cache, in partnership with Community Futures West Yellowhead
- Rocky Mountain House, in partnership with the Town of Rocky Mountain House
- Slave Lake, in partnership with the Slave Lake and District Chamber of Commerce
- La Crete, in partnership with Community Futures Northwest Alberta
Why have these communities been selected?
Pilot sites were chosen based on the following criteria:
- An identified need for locally available business information resources and support services;
- A partner organization in the community with the capacity to support and manage a site for all three years of the pilot program; and
- Support for the pilot program expressed by businesses or other stakeholders within the community.
Can my community participate?
Not at this time. All participating communities have been selected for the pilot program. Results from the pilot will be used to determine the future sustainability of the program and potential expansion of rural business centres to other communities.
What are the next steps after the pilot is complete?
An evaluation of the programs will be conducted and the continuation or possible expansion of the pilot will depend on the outcomes of that evaluation and available funding.
How much will the pilot program cost?
The Government of Alberta will provide approximately $2 million in funding over the three year period. This includes previously announced funding for the centre in Slave Lake as part of the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Wildfire Recovery Plan. Partner ministries include Enterprise and Advanced Education, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Human Services.
What is a small business?
Small businesses are defined as having fewer than 50 employees.
How important are small businesses to the Alberta economy?
For the last decade, Alberta has led Canada in the number of new small businesses created. Small businesses are a vital part of Alberta’s economy, making up 96 per cent of all businesses in the province. They provide about 37 per cent of all private sector jobs in Alberta and contribute an estimated 29 per cent to Alberta’s gross domestic product.
For further Government of Alberta information please visit: http://eae.alberta.ca/economic-development/regional-development/rural-alberta-business-centre.aspx