Woodlands County is actively investigating new, emerging, and transforming industries.
We are looking for partners and potential investors who want to investigate opportunities in the region. The municipality is deﬁned by a broad vision for a thriving and sustainable future and is invested in supporting businesses that share this vision.
Woodlands County has contracted Conway Data to conduct a review of the County and provide a high-level assessment of current possibilities for economic growth. This information will be presented to the County by Q2 of 2021.
Our partnerships with regional entities have allowed us to participate in the following reports:
- Woodlands County Community Investment Profile
- Community Futures Yellowhead East Regional Business Diversification Strategy
- Community Futures Yellowhead East Situational Analysis
- Alberta Newsprint Company Site Hosting Prospectus
Contact the Economic Development Officer for more information.
Local market intelligence and research indicate the following sectors may hold local potential for economic development and expansion in Woodlands County:
Our Economic Development Committee is committed to understanding identifying and attracting new energy investment to the County.
This sector includes traditional oil and gas production, large scale power generation, regional pipeline expansion and carbon sequestration and use. It represents a majority of the current economic activity in the region and we anticipate this will continue to be the largest sector of our local economy for years to come.
Canada’s energy mix is changing. Electric and hydrogen vehicles, solar and wind power generation and new regulations are all having an effect on how to produce, transport and consume energy.
Increasing energy literacy is a priority and the County is working on several initiatives with regional partners to educate our local population and potential investors regarding new opportunities and changing government regulations and policies.
“We are moving from the silver bullet of oil and gas to the silver buckshot of an energy mix,” stated Energy Futures Lab Fellow Maggie Hanna.
Recent meetings with Energy Futures Lab and a wide variety of partners from across our region showed what this energy mix may look like in the future. It is likely to include traditional oil and gas, electricity, waste heat usage, blue hydrogen production, geothermal sources for both heat and energy, construction of new infrastructure including several kinds of pipelines, and upgrades to electrical and communication infrastructure.
Partnering with the town of Whitecourt, Woodlands County is investigating geothermal opportunities and will have more information later in 2021.
A number of sources have identified Northern Alberta as an advantageous area to grow hemp for all manner of industrial purposes.
The long daylight hours experienced in Woodlands County during the summer months allow for the growth of very long and very strong hemp stalks. Through a decortication process, this fibre can be harvested and used in a huge variety of products.
In addition to the fibre, many other parts of the plant can be used for various industrial purposes including the production of hemp seed and hemp oil. This variety of uses and the suitability of the climate make hemp production in Woodlands County a growth opportunity.
As part of the GROWTH REDA, Woodlands County participated in the Hemp Northern Advantage Study. Our Economic Development Committee continues to work with growers and potential growers in our County in order jointly identify and pursue economic opportunities in this industry.
One dedicated production facility, Iron Ridge Farms, was built in the County in 2020 and local agriculture producers are watching the industry with great interest.
Access to a world class transportation network is essential for the development and day to day functioning of the Woodlands County economy.
Woodlands County alongside a number of regional partners meet with MLA Shane Getson and MLA Martin Long to discuss next steps and further development opportunities regarding transportation infrastructure in our region. MLA Getson is the head of a Government of Alberta Task Force which will work with industry on advancing national and regional energy and resource corridors as part of Alberta's Recovery Plan. Further details on the task force are expected to be released by June of 2021.
One major infrastructure proposal has been proposed by a private company called A2A Rail. This proposal would see the construction of a new rail line and an expanded trade corridor starting in Alberta, passing through the Northwest Territories and Yukon and ending at deep water ports in Alaska.
The proposal was given Presidential Approval under President Trump to proceed in Alaska and the company is currently investigating the Canadian portion of the route. Significant discussion are underway with several First Nations and many have given their support of the proposal. Further discussion are underway and the County continues to watch this project for new developments.
Highway 43 is a twinned four lane Government of Alberta highway that runs across Woodlands County. It is part of the CANAMEX Trade Corridor and connects Canada to Mexico through the United States. First identified as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the corridor is now recognized as a valuable asset providing opportunity for trade under the 2020 USMCA Trade Agreement.
The Whitecourt Airport, located in and operated by Woodlands County, provides a wide range of aviation services, including the transportation of people and high value goods. The airport serves the entire region. An update to the Airport Master Plan was completed in 2020 to further guide development of the airport. The airport lands are available for development for both airside and aviation related businesses.