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Villeneuve Landing Network to take off at airshow

County commits $131K to business boost centre
2508 AirshowWrap15 5327 km
INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY — Sturgeon County council authorized Mayor Alanna Hnatiw on June 28, 2022, to sign the foundational agreements for the Villeneuve Landing Network this August during the Alberta International Airshow. Shown here is a photo from the 2021 airshow. The network is designed to bring investment to the airport region. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

Sturgeon County and partners will sign onto a new network to boost development around the Villeneuve Airport this August during the Alberta International Airshow.

Sturgeon County council authorized Mayor Alanna Hnatiw to enter into the Villeneuve Landing Network Founders Agreement with the Edmonton Regional Airports Authority (ERAA) June 28. They also authorized her to sign partner agreements with groups that wish to join the network.

County council agreed to create this network back in 2019 to have area governments and businesses work together to develop the Villeneuve Airport region, which was projected to produce close to 1,700 jobs in 20 years if fully developed.

Background notes presented to council said the Villeneuve Landing Network is to be a collaborative, non-share-based group led by Sturgeon County and the ERAA which will drive growth in and around Villeneuve Airport. Membership in it is voluntary and free (for now).

Under the founders agreement, Sturgeon County and the ERAA will work together to plan the airport region’s development and create business cases to draw investment to the airport and area. Parties who sign partnership agreements will promote the region’s development and review proposals made by the founders.

These agreements are not legally binding and do not involve funding commitments. Instead, partners will sign separate legal agreements should they choose to invest in any business case tabled by the founders and receive returns in proportion to their investments. The partnership and founders agreements are to last four years, extensible to 12.

County innovation and strategic initiatives executive advisor Milad Asdaghi said several organizations have already agreed to join the network, but did not disclose their identities.

This agreement is a monumental step forward in this region which could result in major growth, said Coun. Neal Comeau.

Hnatiw said she is pleased to support aviation and aerospace logistics, which are sectors all the economic development groups the county support said are growth opportunities. Making investment in the network optional shows how partners, when left to their own devices, will act in the best interests of the region.

“This has been an underutilized and underdeveloped asset,” she said of the airport, and she will continue to encourage the ERAA to focus its investment there.

Hnatiw is to formally sign these agreements with the ERAA and partner organizations during the 2022 Alberta International Airshow, which is scheduled for Aug. 13-14.

Job centre

In a related move, county council committed $131,090 June 28 to build a Villeneuve Landing Network Business Development and Jobs Creation Centre at Villeneuve Airport.

County council decided in March 2021 to offer about 6,000 square feet of space at the airport to support new businesses and provide space for investor meetings. Council later got a $285,000 grant from the province’s Municipal Stimulus Program to fund the initiative.

The county has partnered with Energy Efficient Homes to build the centre, county chief operations officer Scott MacDougall told council. The proposed centre will include a boardroom and two offices for the county, with the rest of the centre leased to new businesses.

MacDougall said this additional cash is meant to cover rising construction costs. Energy Efficient Homes has agreed to chip in $91,091 for construction in exchange for a five-year lease, which will cost the county an additional $36,500 a year. Add in other costs, and the project (lease included) is to cost $689,681 over five years.

Hnatiw said this centre will bring “human capital” to the airport and support the county’s efforts to bring diverse, high-paying jobs to this region.

The centre is expected to open in late 2022.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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