Sylvan Lake is offering a storefront location free for one year in a contest designed to provide an economic development boost.
The town and Community Futures Central Alberta are teaming up on the Win This Space initiative, which offers a rent-free commercial space up to a value of $15,000.
A business pitch competition is part of the initiative, which will see the successful candidate given help with mentoring, networking and business training.
Town economic development officer Amanda Mercer said similar initiatives have proven successful in a number of Ontario communities.
Mercer said the goal is to find a business that will complement the downtown and be a good fit with existing businesses.
Local businesses looking to relocate from one site to another are not eligible unless a new, unrelated business, product or service is being pursued or being removed from an existing business to its own stand-alone location. Those looking to convert a home-based business into a brick and mortar location are also eligible.
“It couldn’t be just be a move because that wouldn’t serve our purpose of filling another space in our downtown,” said Mercer. “That’s why that rule is in there to encourage an expansion or a new element into a new space.”
Another must is that the business holds year-round appeal.
“Having a business that can sustain the winter months and not just take advantage of the summer months is really important for our downtown,” she said.
“This is part of our business recruitment strategy for the downtown area. It was identified in our Sustainable Waterfront Area Redevelopment Plan that the town really wanted to see downtown revitalized and they wanted to see business vacancies go down significantly.”
“This is one way we’re helping fill that gap and meet the needs of the plan.”
There are many businesses that offer services such as outdoor cafes in the summer but continue to cater to customers when beach season has closed, she said.
About 15 properties are on the list of eligible locations for the winning business proposal and others may be added.
While there are a number of vacancies downtown the town has attracted some new businesses recently. White Frog Cafe Coffeehouse and Roastery opened in a historic stone building at 5025 46th St. and features a gift store. Spice Hut East Indian Cuisine also opened recently at 5004 46th St.
For more information on the initiative go to www.sylvanlake.ca