Thursday, 26 October 2017 12:04

High River celebrates thriving industry during Small Business Week

Written by  Demi Knight
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Small business week is celebrated in High River as the Downtown area flourishes with multiple new and continued businesses Small business week is celebrated in High River as the Downtown area flourishes with multiple new and continued businesses

A small town is making big moves to become a vibrant business hub in southern Alberta.

After the 2013 floods brought devastation to the town of High River and its flourishing business sector, the community has spent years not only building back what they once had but making it even better.
As October comes to its end, High River celebrated all the businesses as part of Small Business Week within the town and all the vital contributions they make to the economy. From October 20-25, the Town worked to pay tribute to the small businesses within High River while hoping to encourage more people throughout the area to recognize the town as a prime location to start their entrepreneurial journey.
Manager of Economic Development for the town of High River, Jodi Dawson says that this week is great to acknowledge all the amazing aspects local businesses the town has to offer. 
“It’s got everything that addresses all you want for a thriving business and family! It has affordability for commercial and residential properties, lease rates that very negotiable and low fee business licensing.
“In fact, licensing is free for people under 25 wanting to start a business to help get them that head start,” added Dawson.
Since the town offers a business tax rate of 0, and a simplified business process, High River continues to prove itself as the perfect place for companies within all industries to thrive. Coupled with the town’s 260,000 square feet of new developments thanks to the area re-development plan that began back in June of this year, it seems nothing can hold the town down, not even devastating floods that destroyed or disrupted many local businesses and residents throughout the area.
“Since the floods back in 2013, there’s been a significant investment in infrastructure that’s made our downtown area so unique which is great,” says Dawson. “And I was actually really pleased this year to learn that our business licence has achieved back the levels we had prior to the floods.”
After bouncing back stronger than before the town and its astonishing resiliency has much to celebrate and many small businesses to acknowledge. In fact, the town has grown leaps and bounds in just the last year by jumping from a 25% vacancy rate in the downtown area to only 17% in the past year.
With a greater business influx than outflux the town is even capturing the attention of neighbouring regions, where many have noticed the town’s unique and savvy approach to businesses and are coming in to try their own entrepreneurial hands in High River.
“We see a lot of people coming into the town to start businesses. We’ve definitely increased our amount of marketing and public relations that we’re doing because we weren’t a known commodity to Calgarians even though we’re not that far away,” says Dawson of the measures the town has taken to become a wanted commodity not only to people within the area, but also those surrounding it. “There’s multiple people that have come here because they looked around and knew they wanted to be in the Calgary region, and chose High River because it’s close enough to urban amenities, but far enough to have its own amenity as well and I think that helps us thrive.”
However, it’s not just new businesses that the town is proud to be home to, but this week also went to show the longevity and thriving industry the town has provided to many existing businesses over the years.
“42% of businesses here have actually been in business over 10 years, all those folks weathered what we went through with the floods and kept themselves running which speaks volumes to the town,” says Dawson.
With long-term priorities for economic development to growing local businesses and increasing the number of living wage jobs in the community, Dawson ended by saying High River has a focus of simply giving businesses what they need to grow without all the extra hurdles.
“For us, what we’ve really focused on is simplifying the business process, so we have one fee for licensing, its one rate if you operate inside and 1 rate if you’re from elsewhere operating in the town. Businesses like to have certainty and so these things need to be clear and that’s what we’ve really focused on in the recent years.”

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