The Cochrane Dollar is the "best of the best" initiative put forward by Alberta communities according to Economic Developers Alberta (EDA) and was honoured with two prestigious awards, Mar. 22.

A partnership between Town of Cochrane Economic Development, ATB Financial and the Cochrane Monetary Foundation, the dollar was named the top Business Retention and Expansion (medium community/region) program for the annual awards and clinched the Alex Metcalfe Award for best overall community initiative. 

Cochrane Economic Development manager Mike Korman says the Cochrane Dollar continues to gain steam and there are now more than $25,000 in circulation with over 60 businesses accepting and circulating them. That's more than double the participating businesses who were involved in its launch last May.

Korman says they continue to reach out to businesses and explain the dollar's value to promote local shopping. The aim is to have 100 businesses onboard and about $100,000 in circulation by the end of the year. Currently, $1,200 to $1,500 more in Cochrane Dollars is being circulated each month.

"From a marketing perspective, we're reaching out to businesses to say here's how to use the tool and we're actually going to the residents, as well, and saying, utilize it as part of your everyday local shopping; be part of and be proud of the community."

The award is a great testimony to its aim to assist with business retention and expansion.

"It speaks to the work that Rob Kalinovich (economic development officer) did with the Cochrane Dollars and how he continues to move it forward and make it a viable tool for businesses in town."

Korman says Bragg Creek would love to be part of the Cochrane program and other municipalities, like Carstairs, have reached out for information to see if it's viability to institute.

The dollars come in denominations of $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 and a limited edition $150 bill was issued to commemorate Canada's 150th birthday. Each depicts Cochrane's culture, landmarks and history and has numerous security features.

Grant funding was received from the Alberta Economic Development Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program to help launch the dollar.

This is the second time a component of the town’s shop local campaign has been recognized by the Economic Developers Alberta. In 2016, the EDA singled out "Proudly Cochrane", another part the shop local campaign, with an award of excellence for Community Economic Development (small community/region category).