Region of Newell
The Newell Region in Southeast Alberta is a picturesque area comprised of five individual municipalities. Covering about 1.5 million acres, the Newell Region, small in population, is fighting well above its weight, and is one of the most prosperous regions in one of the country’s most prosperous provinces.
The Newell Region is attracting attention for its role in the greater Alberta economy as an integral component in the oil and gas and manufacturing sectors. Many businesses are looking to Newell for its advanced level of economic development, strong industry culture and high quality of life due to its proximity to Lake Newell, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Dinosaur Provincial Park, and world-class recreation opportunities.
Newell’s economy is driven primarily by Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, and Wholesale Trade industries. With a smaller population than most urban centres in Alberta, Newell’s regional hub, the City of Brooks, has one of the highest industry revenues per capita and per worker. “For every worker in our region, industry produces half a million dollars’ worth of revenue, which is higher than Calgary and Edmonton,” says Michelle Gietz, Manager of Economic Development, for the Newell Regional Economic Development Initiative (NREDI). Gietz credits the city’s prodigious workforce to a young population, the mix of business in the region and the high-returning industries.
NREDI was initiated in 2012 to focus on economic development in the Region of Newell. Made up of representatives from each of the region’s five municipalities, the Eastern Irrigation District and members at large representing the business community, the group aims to “identify, research, and pursue initiatives that will enhance the economic growth of the Newell Region.”
Newell is a major service centre supporting the major Oil and Gas industry in the province, and over 33 per cent of all industry revenues in the City of Brooks generated by the Oil and Gas sector. Geographically located in one of Alberta’s most active natural gas fields, the Region of Newell has over 20,000 natural gas wells and 1,500 active oil wells in the Region. There is not a major oil and gas company that does not have a presence in the region, with Cenovus Energy’s footprint being the biggest, and the largest single employer in the region’s energy sector.
“Here in rural Alberta, we have a lot of creative and industrious people in our region,” says Tracy Acorn, manager of the Brooks and District Chamber of Commerce. “What we have here in terms of industry and community support is very strong. I believe businesses look to our region as a strong place to set roots.” It’s a sentiment felt by the people in the region; its citizens are an industrious group who take pride in their work.
As one of the most productive areas in the province, Newell’s manufacturing sector is a large employer in the region, and attracts manufacturing
support industries to the area. One out of every seven workers in the region makes a living in the manufacturing industry, which provides 17 per cent of total business revenue in the region.
The area is home to metal manufacturers who drill, produce tanks, service wells, create metal fabrication and machining, all suitable for contracted projects across the country. “The half dozen manufacturing shops around all have their own niche, and are partners to the greater oil and gas industry of the province,” says Dyck, Manager at Boomer Services Ltd.
Dyke operates a self-described “one stop shop” for all your oil & gas production facility needs. Boomers is a welding manufacturing shop that supplies the oil and gas industry, mostly new construction for small oil and gas separators from its 18,000 square foot facility.
“Logistically speaking, the region is in a great spot,” says Dyck. “We are on two major highways. At the time when this business was started there were a lot of opportunities in this region, and we’ve stayed here ever since.” The Newell Region is located between three of Alberta’s cities, situated 187 kilometres from Calgary, 100 kilometres from Medicine Hat, and 150 kilometers from Lethbridge.
The region has a talented pool of specialized and highly trained business and employees to support industry. Members of the Southeast Alberta Metal Manufacturers (SEAM) have worked hard to achieve advanced certifications in a broad range of industry classifications to meet the needs of industry projects. Transportation and supply chain linkages are also integral to the on-going success of SEAM. As a member of the Palliser Economic Partnership, the Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor and Ports to Plains, Region of Newell businesses are ideally located to participate in contract projects and services for companies working closer to the Alberta Oil Sands.
This accessibility has also created a “thriving and extensive agricultural base within the Newell Region,” says Gietz. The region is home to some of the most profitable farmers in Alberta due to irrigation and hybrid seed production. In addition to manufacturing in the oil industry, 9 per cent of all the food manufacturing in the province is located in the Region of Newell. JBS Lakeside currently operates the former XL Foods plant, the largest meat packing facility in western Canada, and Newell’s largest single employer. This facility employs over 2,000 full-time staff and has become an integral part of the agriculture sector in a province known for cattle and livestock.
Newell is also home to the country’s largest apiary, the largest water irrigation network in Canada (The Eastern Irrigation District which was also featured in The Canadian Business Journal), 80 per cent of Canada’s alfalfa seed crop, and a provincial agricultural research station, the Crop Diversification Centre South.
The Region of Newell continues to grow alongside the Alberta economy. As a vital link in the economic engine, the region’s diversity of industry, industrious workforce and expansive geography all combine to create a vibrant community that is indicative of the Canadian spirit.