Thursday, 12 December 2013 06:18

City wants to hear from businesses about economic future

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Business Retention and Expansion Committee members at the Dec. 9 announcement of an initiative to engage the city’s business community through an upcoming business retention and expansion survey. From left to right, Sandra Blyth (Onagon International), John Parker (Community Futures Southwest General Manager), Darla Lindbjerg (Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce CEO), Mayor Jerrod Schafer, Marty Salberg (City of Swift Current Director of Business Development), Murray Walter (Economic Advisory Committee), Susan Motkaluk (City of Swift Current Chief Administrative Officer). Business Retention and Expansion Committee members at the Dec. 9 announcement of an initiative to engage the city’s business community through an upcoming business retention and expansion survey. From left to right, Sandra Blyth (Onagon International), John Parker (Community Futures Southwest General Manager), Darla Lindbjerg (Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce CEO), Mayor Jerrod Schafer, Marty Salberg (City of Swift Current Director of Business Development), Murray Walter (Economic Advisory Committee), Susan Motkaluk (City of Swift Current Chief Administrative Officer).

The City of Swift Current wants to involve the local business community in the identification of priorities for future economic growth and prosperity.


The City announced an upcoming business retention and expansion survey at a press conference Dec. 9.
The survey, which will start in January, will aim to identify business needs and opportunities in the community through direct interaction with businesses located in the city and the adjacent rural municipality.
City of Swift Current Chief Administrative Officer Susan Motkaluk encouraged businesses to participate in the survey.
“Tell us what is really going on at a local level and work with us during this exciting time,” she said.
She emphasized that future prosperity and progress will require the co-operation of all parties in the city and rural municipality.
“As a forward-thinking community, we must work together to attain it,” she said. “We cannot simply wait for the good times to roll in. By working together, we can create opportunities and prosperity for us all.”
Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer said the City’s administration is dedicated to serving the community and to promoting economic prosperity.
“It is a priority to attract and retain business, investment and labour in the form of new residents with a community that offers both opportunity and a high quality of life,” he noted.
He referred to the economic growth of the province and the need for pro-active steps to ensure Swift Current gets its share of this prosperity.
“The most important thing that we can do is to facilitate growth by engaging the business community to work with us,” he said. “We believe that by working together, we can develop and implement effective strategies that will address any challenges that we face as a community.”
The City’s aim is to tap into the expertise and knowledge of the many skilled entrepreneurs and business people in the community as a way to improve the economic environment for existing businesses and to attract new ones.
“Seventy per cent of new jobs come from existing businesses and that is why we are here today,” Schafer said. “We appreciate our local business community and want to hear from you. We want your feedback.”
The business retention and expansion survey will be part of the City’s economic development efforts that started last spring with the creation of an Economic Advisory Committee, which includes prominent professional and business people.
Soon afterwards the City’s Economic Development Division launched a process to evaluate the economic landscape of Swift Current. Consultant and statistician Doug Elliott, the publisher of Sask Trends Monitor, is compiling data to compare Swift Current’s economic situation with seven other cities in the province.
“Right now, the statistician’s efforts have given us a window into what our economy is doing, but we will really like to hear from people on the ground and in the trenches,” Motkaluk said. “The local businesses, when they fill out the survey, will support or fill in some of the gaps of data.”
The City’s goal is to involve at least 100 businesses in the survey to provide statistically meaningful data. Members of the recently established Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) Committee will assist the City to gain business participation in the survey.
The committee involves a variety of key stakeholders in the community, including the R.M. of Swift Current, Swift Current and District Chamber of Commerce, Swift Current Downtown Business Association, Community Futures Southwest, Tourism Swift Current and the Great Plains College.
Community Futures Southwest contributed $15,000 towards the BRE initiative. General Manager John Parker said the organization felt it was a good investment that will help to move the project forward.
“We just felt this is a great initiative to be part of,” he said. “As economic development and business development people, we could see our part in moving up and moving forward and providing advice and information. It fits right with our portfolio and the board of directors was unanimous in their support to financially help out.”
According to Motkaluk, the completion of the economic analysis and survey will provide the City with a solid picture of the status quo and future goals. The Economic Advisory Committee will use this information to engage the BRE Committee and the wider business community.
“Together we will develop strategies and focus groups to capitalize on opportunities and address these opportunities along with any challenges,” she said.

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