A local Indigenous group is looking to improve the local economy by venturing outside of the oil and gas sector.
The Fort McMurray #468 First Nation is working on creating Alberta’s first Indigenous economic development zone.
The group is in talks with the federal and provincial governments for a Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement to get around 1,000 acres around the corner of Highway 63 and 69.
CEO of FMFN Brad Callihoo tells Mix News the idea is to build a commercial and retail development area to encourage outside businesses to invest in the region.
“It’s about becoming an asset to the region, we work with the municipality and different levels of government and we want to know how we can help the region, is it a Costco or a Best Buy, it’s still up for discussion.”
The First Nation has already made a partnership with Cameron Development Corporation, a company which has advanced commercial development in Edmonton. Callihoo says they’re hoping their business connections could lead to more well-known companies opening up a branch store in the zone.
“They have the relationships with the Walmarts of the world, the McDonalds, the Costcos, so if we can get this up and running we can definitely see something like that come to the region.”
Though he doesn’t have the exact numbers, Callihoo believes job creation will be significant through construction and operating each business.
“If we can bring what we want to bring here, it would be drastically significant.”
Speaking on Fort McMurray Matters, Mayor Don Scott says Wood Buffalo Council is in full support of the project and will be sending a letter of support to the province to move forward with the TLE agreement.
Meanwhile, Callihoo says they’re hoping to have everything dealt with over the next two years.