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Job creation, First Nations reconciliation and tourism gems abound in Cranbrook

The Natanik project will create generational opportunities and prosperity
(Left to right) Becky Pelkonen (ʔaq̓am Community Enterprises board chair), Marty Williams (Natanik Lead, ʔaq̓am elder), Craig Campbell (General Manager, ʔaq̓am Community Enterprises), Darren Brewer (Economic Development Officer with the City of Cranbrook).

On top of offering an idyllic slice of Rocky Mountain paradise, the City of Cranbrook occupies an area of significantly untapped potential, presenting investors with a unique and compelling offer to pave the way toward reconciliation while also turning them onto renewable energy opportunities for high-draw power users. 

Supporting the progressive efforts of the ʔaq̓am community, a member community of the Ktunaxa First Nation, the city is working on an ambitious economic development strategy that is primed with development possibilities for businesses in the industrial, manufacturing or hospitality sectors.

Natanik, which translates into “sun,” is a renewable energy project and land development that represents truth and reconciliation in action. The project has two main elements: a utility-grade renewable energy project and the development of more than 100 acres of lease-only land adjacent to the Canadian Rockies International Airport.

Recruitment and reconciliation

ʔaq̓am Community Enterprises (ACE) and the City of Cranbrook's economic development office are working together with a shared vision and goals to create generational wealth for its surrounding communities. This is a historic opportunity, a vision of Indigenous clean energy that’s ready to power business and economic reconciliation.

“ACE was created to generate revenue and create economic opportunities through sound business practices and strategic relationships,” says Ktunaxa Nation elder and ACE board member Marty Williams. “It’s important we develop relationships to develop businesses that are sustainable, and we welcome anyone who has a business and is looking to expand to work with us.”

This is a project that offers a myriad of opportunities highlighted by two main selling points: electricity supplied through a First Nations-led green energy project and an airport that is on the doorstep of Rocky Mountain gems.  

“It’s our airport and our city that makes the experience for the hotels and the traveller truly unique,” says City of Cranbrook economic development officer Darren Brewer. “Instead of flying into a busy airport in Calgary or Vancouver to get to Jasper or Banff, we can offer a gateway that makes a memorable connection to the Rockies.”

A plot brimming with potential in Cranbrook

Cranbrook Airport offers access to the Rockies without travelling through the business of Vancouver or Calgary. Photo via: Mike Mcphee.

The land is ideally suited for light industrial, manufacturing or hospitality opportunities: think hotels, aerospace, logistics, supply chain, tech start-ups and high-draw power users, among others.

Available electricity can be scarce in large swaths of Canada, not to mention the need to navigate lengthy wait times with local governments.

“Cranbrook is a great location for companies looking to establish clean and sustainable operations in B.C.,” Brewer adds. “Close collaboration between government and municipalities along with leading climate policies, critical infrastructure, and top talent all help companies to get established and grow. In addition, streamlined regulations make registering a business easier and applying for permits and licenses easier.”

And because Cranbrook is B.C.’s sunniest city, the solar power component makes sense. 

“Natanik represents more than just a renewable energy project and employment lands; it embodies economic reconciliation in action,” says ACE general manager Craig Campbell. “It offers a historic opportunity to partner with a First Nation community, fostering sustainable development while creating generational wealth for our community.”

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