Creating regional business advantage

The 21st century has brought an economic reality that includes a new era of global competition, global supply chains, and global market opportunities.

While these concepts may seem remote, there is strong local impact. Quite simply, with global purchasing capacity on everyone’s phones, our local businesses and industries must be world-class in their offerings and services.

It follows that long-term business success demands that we as a city and region provide a world-class business environment for local business. To help business thrive, we need to understand the extent to which Medicine Hat and the southeast region does, or does not, offer a competitive advantage in economic inputs such as: skilled workers, infrastructure, capital,  regulation, and more.

The good news: we’re on it.

Invest Southeast Alberta is a new, fast-growing, collaborative movement spearheaded by Medicine Hat and regional business and community leaders.  Together, they’ve launched the Business Retention, Expansion and Workforce Development Strategy (BREWD) project to gather and analyze information related to the current business environment and to implement an action plan to address issues that may hinder growth and expansion.

The goal is to ensure southeast Alberta is providing a competitive business environment where new and existing businesses have the support they need to grow and succeed.

The BREWD project encompasses businesses and individuals from Medicine Hat, Redcliff, Bow Island, Cypress County and County of Forty Mile. Think of this as the commuter-shed around the city, a reasonable distance for people to drive to their jobs.

Between now and September 16 we are reaching out and inviting business and community leaders to take advantage of this opportunity by getting involved in the BREWD project. Already, over 70 individuals have joined the movement. Training will be provided in August and will offer the opportunity for you to network with local businesses and gain experience on this exciting and purposeful project.

What are the Benefits to my Business?

We know that investing in our local businesses is essential.  They are the foundation of our economy and are the reason for the level of success we see today.  Existing businesses and industries play an important role in the overall economic health and quality of life in our region. Retention and expansion efforts are successful when a community is engaged and unified in taking action.

When our community and  business leaders are trained, we will begin visiting local business. Business will be encouraged to have their say. We want to gather information about what is and isn’t working for business and have an open dialogue about real solutions. Eventually, this information will be used to identify and analyze trends, challenges and opportunities facing existing businesses.  Teams will then be organized to address issues that were identified.

How can I Get involved?

Community and business leaders are invited and encouraged to participate.  Please visit our website to Join the Movement:

If you have questions, please send them to

The work of Invest Southeast Alberta will complement the City of Medicine Hat’s investment attraction services, Invest Medicine Hat and Verge Economic Development in the surrounding areas.

This article was writen by Elizabeth Blair, regional innovation network coordinator for APEX Alberta and partner of Invest Southeast Alberta. APEX Alberta supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.   APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers:  Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.


Group taking action for business

Entrepreneurs, there is a new initiative underway!   Are you ready to join the movement? 

With a focus on existing and developing businesses, and a changing landscape to employment, our region is facing a shift in how we view economic diversity.  A newly-formed consortium of business, governments, and service agencies called “Invest Southeast Alberta” is launching this exciting new strategy.   

This evening at 4 pm, the movement begins!  Please join us for the public information sessions taking place.  The evening will include an opportunity to network with like- minded business owners, the leadership team and learn more about how you can become involved in making this project a great success. 

The BREWD project encompasses Medicine Hat, Redcliff, Bow Island, Cypress County, and County of Forty Mile.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us to support what makes Southeast Alberta the place to be in business.

What is in this project, for business? opportunity to have a unified voice;

2.a project where challenges / opportunities are identified and prioritized;

3. this will be a business-directed plan of action;

4. service providers and business will be aligned and committed to work together and take action; and

5.the attraction and retention of a skilled, productive workforce for a strong competitive business environment where business can grow and succeed.

What is Business Retention & Expansion anyway?

Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) is a proven, systematic economic development model applied internationally for more than 35 years.   Information derived from research completed by Blane, Canada Ltd. found that 70-80% of new jobs come from existing employers.  BRE strategies also show that it is easier and less expensive to retain existing businesses than it is to invite new businesses into the region.

Through a comprehensive survey, where businesses will have an opportunity to share their needs and goals, it will allow us to better understand the state of the current business environment.  Understanding, identifying and addressing barriers that might prevent business from growing or taking advantage of opportunity in the region is an important goal of this project.

The project will also have an important workforce development component where we will identify challenges employers might be facing in attracting and retaining labour.  The data will then be analyzed to develop strategies and implement projects to address common workforce issues.

This project will work towards helping facilitate business growth and increase the benefits of a collaborative business environment.  It is important that we consider new and existing businesses in southeastern Alberta and how we can build a support system so that they can grow and succeed.

Investing in our regional businesses is essential as they are the foundation of our economy and are the reason for the level of success we see today.

The first phase of the project starts with informing the business community about the benefits of this initiative and how to get involved, public information sessions are scheduled for June 19th and 20th at the Cypress Club, 218 6 Ave SE, Medicine Hat.

Anyone interested in participating can reach out to Elizabeth Blair at 403-528-2824 or by email at    Seating is limited so do not delay.

Our leadership team hopes to see you there!

For more information on Invest Southeast Alberta and the BREWD project, please visit 

Elizabeth Blair is the regional innovation network coordinator for APEX Alberta.  APEX Alberta supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.  APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.

You need a plan for your business exit

Last year the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that 47% of Canadian business owners are planning to exit their business within the next five years.

With statistics like that, if you are a business owner, there is a 1 in 2 chance that you are thinking of making an exit yourself.

81% of those surveyed said that retirement is the reason they will leave their business. Perhaps that is your story as well. Maybe your retirement will happen in that same 5-year window, or maybe you have a little longer to plan. Either way, there will come a time that you will make an exit. And when you do, what is the plan for your business? Will you sell it? Dissolve it? Hand it over to a relative? Do you even know where to begin?

If you are unsure about what your exit strategy will be, do not fret about it. You are not alone. That same survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business revealed that half of those surveyed have no formal exit strategy. 1 in 3 are not even sure where to start.

It might be comforting to know that you are not alone. But do not let that prevent you from taking action and making a plan for a well executed transition into your retirement.

Chicago-based business advisor, Ted Thomas, says that successfully exiting your business will require a series of proactive decisions rather than responding to situations and circumstances.

Thomas says, "It's almost like the military: Before you go in, you want to know how you're going to get out."

Creating a business succession plan and obtaining professional advice is a perfectly good idea.  Seeking the counsel and expertise of a business valuator is an important first step. A business valuation is a very complex financial process.

On June 26, APEX Alberta will be hosting a free session to provide business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with information on business valuations.  This session will guide you through important elements like ownership, tax strategies, contingency planning, and structuring considerations.

This upcoming Lunch & Learn seminar will be presented by Drew Jackiw, a local Chartered Professional Accountant with JMH & Co., and it is designed for business owners, family businesses, entrepreneurs, and aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to learn about the business valuation process.

Drew will dig deeper into specifics on: factors that affect value, valuation methods, preparing for a sale, financing an acquisition or a sale, transitioning without a sale to family and tax minimization strategies.

To register for this free event, please visit the APEX website or call 403-528-2824 to register.

Elizabeth Blair is the regional innovation network coordinator for APEX Alberta. APEX Alberta supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta. APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates. 

The use of assessment tools in human resource management

Every leader in business faces the ongoing challenge of maximizing the potential of their team. The goal is to hire great people, develop great people and, ultimately, to keep great people. As author Jim C. Collins has famously explained, we want to get the right people on the bus and get them in the right seats.

There are many variables that go into hiring the right people. Certainly having the right skillset, or the ability to develop the right skillset is critical. Chemistry is often a critical part of choosing the right people to join your team. Applicants vary widely in their skills, abilities, work styles and other characteristics.  These differences can and do affect the way people behave or perform in their job.

Perhaps you have a team of talented, experienced people but you are struggling to get them to perform to their fullest potential.

Or maybe you have a team that is not working well together. 

If you could understand how certain individuals work, you could produce a more productive and cohesive team.

As HR professionals are struggling to find and retain the best talent, there are tools often used to help increase communication and performance on a team.  In this article I will highlight three popular assessment tools that you can access online:

1.DISC® is a personal assessment tool.  By answering a series of questions, a detailed report will be produced that defines your personality and behavior.  The tool allows an individual to better understand themselves and adapt to others who for example, work in a team.

How to access the tool: DISC ® can be accessed at

2. CliftonStrengths assessment – The CliftonStrengths assessment helps you to discover your complete and unique talent profile.

How to access the tool: CliftonStrengths assessment can be accessed at

3.The Myers-Briggs Personality Test ( MBTI®:   MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR® ) – The MBTI assessment helps to improve interactions and to promote effectiveness in work and personal lives.   Organizations can use it to improve communication, teamwork, and leadership.

How to access the tool:

These tools can provide a leader with a level of insight into the communication style, relational needs and personal drivers of an individual being considered for a position or for those already on your team. When used constructively, these can also help team members understand one another more effectively and improve communication and cooperation.

Assessment tools have been around for many years. The DISC® profile assessment dates all the way back to the 1920’s. As insightful as they may be, they should be utilized with a clear understanding of what it is that you want to measure.  These tools should not be used as a way to disqualify people but rather as a way to look at areas of strength and areas for improvement.

Community Futures Entre-Corp has been supporting small business since 1988.  We provide the tools and guidance you need to run your business.  For more information about our programs and how we can connect you with helpful resources, please call Community Futures at 403-528-2824.

Elizabeth Blair is the regional innovation network coordinator for APEX Alberta. APEX Alberta has programs to help support the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.  APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.