Awarded For Building Economic Strength

Kelli Ireland, Bob Nicolay, Ted Clugston and Jalyce Thompson, City of Medicine Hat and Invest Medicine Hat. September 22, 2021

On September 8, Invest Medicine Hat and the City of Medicine Hat were awarded the provincial Minister’s Award for Municipal Excellence for their innovative approach to Economic Supports to ‘Building Economic Strength’ in their community.

The City of Medicine Hat Business Innovation Grant (MHBIG) and the Shop YXH Marketplace were acknowledged as innovative efforts to support the local business community in coping with and recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

MHBIG was a $2M financial grant, part of an $8.2M COVID relief package approved by City Council, that local business owners could apply for to adhere to COVID-19 regulations, create a new revenue stream, digitize their business or implement a customer relationship management system to enable businesses to work safely remotely.

Ken Forbes, owner, Six one Six Entertainment received was a recipient of MHBIG to support the relocation of his business to a 12,000 square foot building downtown, a decision that was initially made just before the pandemic hit.

“With the grant, I felt comfortable about my decision to expand to a larger facility,” said Forbes. “It gave me the confidence to continue going down the path I had always dreamed of for the business. I also purchased UV Light Machines that would sanitize our axe throwing and Virtual Reality technology, a floor scrubber, and security cameras.”

The grant stimulated over $1.75M in economic activity within the community for local businesses and contractors and helped 151 local businesses access resources they might not have otherwise been able to due to mandatory closures and strict guidelines for operations. Every dollar spent on MHBIG generated an additional $3.08 of additional economic activity, directly, and indirectly supporting 175 jobs.

The Shop YXH marketplace and social community is an online, aggregated marketplace where businesses can upload their products for free and sell without their profit being compromised. Not only did the marketplace allow businesses to promote their products online, it also made it easier for the consumer discover and shop local. is accessible to anyone in the world, but only businesses in the YXH region are onboarded and advertised. This resource started as an Instagram account by Kelli Ireland, marketing specialist, Invest Medicine Hat, in early 2020, with the main purpose to promote local business on one platform.

In early 2021, with the support of Invest Medicine Hat, APEX Southeast Alberta, Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat District and Chamber of Commerce and Local Shops, was officially launched as an online marketplace, and to-date features over 160 businesses and 8,000+ local products.

"Shop YXH has become more than an online resource, it's become a movement of talented YXH businesses collaborating and supporting one another," says Ireland, Marketing Specialist for IMH and Shop YXH. "Collaborating with Brooks, Bow Island and other municipalities in YXH is another great example of a regional leadership. We have the ability to access more resources and audience reach for our local businesses."

Cali Bernard, owner of Butter Me Up Co., signed up her business onto when it launched, and says the platform helped make it possible for her to expand her business to a place where she didn’t have to return to work after having children.

“I am thrilled to have been able to take advantage of the free programs and initiatives offered to our small businesses in 2020 from Invest Medicine Hat,” Bernard said. “Knowing I had the tools and resources in place to not only survive, but thrive, in our current marketplace made the decision to stay home with our children a lot easier.”

Out of 64 municipal applicants, Invest Medicine Hat and the City of Medicine Hat were acknowledged and want to send their deepest thanks to the Alberta Government and Minsters office for the beautiful painting by Canadian artist, Bruce Hunter Thompson.

“In such turbulent economic times, the Ministers Award is a great honour and reflection of the work that Invest Medicine Hat continues to deliver on behalf of the community,” says Jason Melhoff, managing director, Invest Medicine Hat.

To stay up-to-date with local business, visit Invest Medicine Hat on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



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