The mood in Hanna is a little more rosy after Alberta's Minister of Economic Development and Trade paid a visit to town on Monday, August 28.
Deron Bilous brought news of $450,000 in grant money to create ten community action teams to help plan Hanna's future.
"The community has come to us with different ideas and we need to take them from concept to action," explained Trisha Sewell of Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation, which is overseeing the initiative. "What we want to accomplish with the community action teams is to actually bring all that information together so we can move things forward for economic development opportunities."
"One group may want to look at something like renewable energy; we may have another group that may want to look at tourism," she elaborated. "There is no set course: this is really about the input from the community on what they see as the potential opportunities that we need to move forward with."
There's been a lot of concern in the Hanna area that the provincial and federal governments want to end coal fired power generation, including the Sheerness Plant and accompanying coal mine south of Hanna. The two operations employ upwards of 200 people, most of whom live in Hanna, and Bilous also addressed affected workers at a couple of town hall meetings.
"We've taken our hits the last two years with the Climate Leadership Plan in terms of the negative press that surrounds our community," noted Sewell. "What we're hoping is we can start changing that message: that we're open for business and that we are looking for new opportunities; and even though Hanna may have to make some changes, we are resilient and we will still be here."