The Athabasca region is fortunate to have the advantage of a relatively diverse local economy. While the oil sector does have a positive impact on local manufacturing and construction industries, agriculture remains a key component. In the 2011 Census of Agriculture, Athabasca County’s gross farm receipts were estimated at nearly $84.5 million and the County ranks second in north central Alberta for total crop acreage.
Forestry is also a key component; Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries is the region’s largest employer and operates Canada’s newest and North-America’s largest, single-line bleached kraft pulp mill. There are a number of sawmills in the municipality who contribute to the forest products industry in Alberta.
Post-secondary institutions like Athabasca University provide opportunities to many who wish to further their education. The university is the largest employer in the Town of Athabasca, with the employees contributing an estimated $30 million to the local economy annually. Portage College has opened an innovative Heavy Equipment Operator and Pipeline Training campus outside of Boyle that provides both simulated and practical experience for those looking for work in oil and gas, construction, or road building industries. Northern Lakes College also has a local campus, which offers popular programs in administration, trades, and human services along with continuing education and corporate training courses.