Industry clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions in a particular field that are present in a specific region. Clusters increase the productivity and competitiveness of the businesses within them.
In Northwest Alberta three types of clusters exist:
- Primary clusters that focus on natural resources and business services
- Local clusters found concentrated within individual communities
- Regional clusters found spread throughout the region
Primary industry clusters represent about 67 percent of the employment opportunities within the REDI region:
- Manufacturing (including forestry)
- Business and community service
Local clusters create demand for supporting activities of their own and thus creating additional business opportunities. Communities with emerging local clusters are as follows:
|Community||Local Cluster||% of Total Business||Number of Companies|
|Fort Vermilion||Educational Services||16.7%||10|
|High Level||Specialty Trade Contractors||8.2%||28|
|La Crete||Truck Transportation||10.9%||23|
|La Crete||Specialty Trade Contractors||9.9%||21|
|Rainbow Lake||Support Activities for Mining||8.2%||14|
|Rainbow Lake||Specialty Trade Contractors||7.6%||14|
|Zama City||Specialty Trade Contractors||30.0%||6|
Source: Alberta First Website, December 2004
Local clusters can be seen as support industries for the primary clusters in the area.
These local clusters have now reached the point where they are creating demand for supporting activities of their own and thus creating additional business opportunities.
For example, the truck transportation cluster in La Crete has grown to 23 businesses operating in La Crete and 20 more operating in the region; heavy-duty truck dealers, auto parts stores and car/truck wash bays.
Across northwestern Alberta three emerging regional clusters account for more than 18 percent of the region’s total businesses
- Repair and maintenance
- Specialty trade contractors
- Truck transportation
Specialty trade contractors account for 8.5 percent of the region’s businesses.