Encouraging small businesses was a highlight of two elected officials at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Niagara Falls.
“I still think it’s a good idea to promote our local businesses,” said Mayor Deb Higgins. “I think it’s an eye opener in many cases to see the variety of goods and services that are available in the community. You don’t have to travel to find the services that you need.”
During a session dedicated to encouraging small businesses, there was a presentation on a campaign in several cities in Eastern Canada.
“It’s a campaign to shop locally and they actually have picked a day in November where they really push the campaign. Now they initiated the program to compete with cross-border shopping,” said Higgins.
There were also strategies to reduce red tape and a discussion on tax incentives that other communities are using, she said.
Ten years ago, Kitchener brought in a levy to compensate for the loss of a good chunk of their manufacturing industry. The levy raised $110 million, which was invested in that area.
“They had a whole district that was dedicated to manufacturing,” said Coun. Patrick Boyle. “The idea was because they had the University of Waterloo and a lot of really talented young techs … they wanted to create a community for them so they did that.”
He said it created new businesses that had the ability to thrive.
“The guys are coming up with new technologies like wearing a wrist band and controlling your computer, tablet, whatever it is, from anywhere and you just use your hand. There’s no mouse anymore,” said Boyle.
He added their “thriving tourism industry” has a lot of similarities with Moose Jaw.
“Being a tourist city and we have a lot of thriving small businesses,” said Boyle. “It’s really fascinating to see.”
He added that he toured the Centre for Digital Media as well. The centre digitally maps out the area of the municipality. That gave him an idea for Moose Jaw.
“All I could help to think about is something like a Moose Jaw centre for excellence in agriculture because really that’s our backbone. We’re in the middle of the province and we have some of the best farming in the world,” said Boyle.
“What better place than to look at some sort of research facility or whatever it is to try and get the province involved and the private sector. It’d be a fascinating idea.”
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.