About Unleashing Local Capital

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Unleashing Local Capital is a unique and innovative local financing program that empowers groups to mobilize resources in their community to finance local business development and foster community ownership.  It is based on the premise that we have the resources, the leadership, and the know-how in our communities to make them vibrant places based on a strong local-economy.

The Alberta Community and Co-operative Association, along with a host of partners has helped numerous Albertan Communities establish Opportunity Development Co-operatives; for-profit co-operatives that pools money within the community to finance business development. Opportunity Development Co-operatives are also RRSP eligible, meaning that millions of dollars can easily be accessed and taken out of places like Wall-Street and Bay-Street to be used to build a better main-street!

If you are interested in building a strong local economy in your community, the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association can help you establish an Opportunity Development Co-operative!

Contact Us for more information!

 Background

Unleashing Local Capital started as a two-year pilot project (2012/13) funded by the Rural Alberta Development Fund. It was led by the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association in conjunction with the following strategic partners:

  • Alberta Business Family Institute
  • Alberta Rural Development Network
  • Athabasca University
  • Community Futures Network of Alberta
  • Conseil de développement économique de l’Alberta

Unleashing Local Capital is based on of a variety of successful community investment programs across Canada (in particular Nova Scotia’s Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF). Most recently community investing has been applied in three rural Albertan communities; all of which were facing the loss of major economic infrastructure. Using this model these communities were able to purchase bedrock assets in their community, make them more profitable, and create more jobs than before!

Over the course of the project we have established several Opportunity Development Co-operatives in Fahler/Smokey River, Athabasca, Vulcan, Crowsnest Pass, with more coming in early 2014.

 Why Invest Locally?

Well, because every year Albertans put over $4 billion of their savings in RRSPs. And billions more are put in non-registered funds (stocks, bonds, mutual funds). Most of that money is invested outside their communities, typically to finance large corporations which create jobs and wealth outside their community, and maybe even outside their country

Yet many of our communities are in serious need of investment. Strong, locallyowned businesses are scarce. This scarcity reinforces other troubling developments, like outmigration and the decay of infrastructure. Stores on the main street get boarded up. Schools close down. Some communities are booming, of course, but the main beneficiaries of this boom are not local. They are the owners of big-box stores, who typically live elsewhere. Once again, our communities are left out of the equation. Their needs do not get met. Opportunities for turning things around get missed.

Investing Locally is a way to stop missing those opportunities, NOW!

Examples of Local Investing in Alberta

The town of Westlock was in risk of losing its grain terminal; which would have forced farmers to truck their grain 100 kms further, adding significantly to their cost of production. In response to this impending crisis the community pulled together, and using a CIF strategy, raised enough capital to purchase the terminal. Today, Westlock Terminals NGC Ltd. is one of the busiest and most profitable terminals in all of Western Canada!

In the Battle River area, farmers faced a similar challenge; however this time they were facing the decommissioning of the railway that connected them to the closest grain terminal. Again, the community pulled together and invested in Battle River Railway NGC that bought the railway! Since making the purchase, the investment has paid significant dividends to its community owners. It has also provided an important asset that can be used for tourism and other opportunities within the area.

Like many rural Albertan communities the hamlet of Sangudo was in a slow state of economic decline. A dedicated group of community members pulled together to set up the Sangudo Opportunity Development Co-operative (SODC), to raise capital to invest in a local business to revive the local economy. SODC raised a quarter of a million dollars to purchase Sangudo Custom Meat Packers (owner was retiring) and leased the building to two local entrepreneurs. Since then, the meat-packing plant has created 14 additional jobs, and is expanding through support from SODC. The SODC has also invested in a local restaurant and is exploring several other business ventures. Through this, they have been able to provide excellent returns on investment.