Participation in a southeast Alberta business survey was greater than expected as organizers for the Business Retention and Expansion Workforce Development project (BREWD) start compiling and analyzing the data.

“It’s a large survey and we received a 21 percent response rate. That’s huge, it’s a great response rate,” said Sandra Blyth, City of Medicine Hat business support officer and lead for the BREWD project. 

The survey, completed by 476 members of the local and regional business community in September and October, is geared to learning more about the challenges and opportunities at businesses in the City of Medicine Hat, Redcliff, Bow Island and businesses that draw employment or provide supplies within a one-hour commute of Cypress County and the County of Forty Mile.  

“We want to put a lens on what’s working and where the challenges are,” said Blyth. “Then, we’ll put together an action plan to solve those challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. Right now, we have consultants crunching all the data.”

These reports will go public in January, but Blyth said the preliminary information is encouraging with 80 percent of the businesses that responded said their local business environment is average to excellent.

“It makes sense to invest in the City,” she said. 

Some of the challenges mentioned were regulations and training of workers. 

“There will be close to 1,000 jobs to fill in the next year and that is going to have to be addressed and technology also came up across various industries, so we have to find out what those ‘tech’ jobs are,” she said. 

A few highlights from the survey research report that is currently being prepared include: 

-60 percent feel business will pick up in the next two years

-74 percent anticipate new purchases to improve their processes

-75 percent feel employee training I very to extremely important

-45 percent are looking to expand or modernize in the near future

-28 percent anticipate number of employees will increase in the next year

In January, a research review meeting will take place with the leadership team and workforce team assessing the report to provide further recommendations and identify potential solutions/projects. 

In February/March, a task force retreat will take place where experts will provide insight on moving forward and setting priorities. 

Full survey results will be available soon on the Invest Southeast Alberta website at investsoutheastalberta.ca. People are encouraged to subscribe to receive notifications and project updates. 

“We will share the knowledge and encourage people to subscribe to stay up-to-date,’ said Blyth. 

An economic growth forum is being planned for April, 2020 to officially launch the projects moving into action.

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