Economic Development, with direction from council, can attract big business to Airdrie and help discourage duplicated businesses. When do we say we have enough liquor stores, drug stores, coffee shops, etcetera? Let’s attract other businesses so the current ones operating can survive the slow economy and give our residents a wide variety of services so they can shop local for everything. Diversifying the types of businesses setting up shop in Airdrie will increase sales of the ones already operating and that, in turn, leads to better wages for their employees.
As a business banker and someone who assists with the SMARTstart program, I see people who want to start new companies or who already have successful companies regularly choosing Airdrie. Affordable space is an issue for small business. We need to look at creative ways to assist with this process. Good paying jobs come from enticing larger companies. As we start to come out of the economic slump, those companies are beginning to build buildings, start projects and hire staff. We need to continue to be open to discussions with these companies and work closely with them to make the process easy.
I believe if we encourage residents to shop locally we will improve business within Airdrie. This in turn will improve the job market and wages. It’s a trickle down effect. I hear lots of complaints about too many liquor stores and nail salons. It would be nice to have a wide arrange of businesses in the city so our residents can shop locally rather than go to Calgary. If we can break away from being a bedroom community to Calgary and become more self sufficient, we can improve our job market, life and city as a whole.
To develop a job market in Airdrie that would grant employees, long-term, stable, well-paying employment we must first have a city that is able to attract these kinds of businesses and industry. We must continue to support our Economic Development team with the resources they need to continue to attract companies like Techmation, Alta Injection Molding and the Costco Distribution Centre, just to name a few. We need to continue to advocate to the Provincial Government to move the weigh scales north of Airdrie to attract more transportation companies, which would benefit by Airdrie’s proximity to the QE2.
As a city, if we promoted the Airdrie Health Park, we would see short-term construction jobs and long-term health-related jobs, which earn typically higher salaries. We could also look to streamline the process for new businesses to come to Airdrie and employ locals. I’d love to see an Airdrie-specific commercial real estate directory of all for-sale, lease or looking-for-investors spaces. Much like Amazon inviting cities to vie for their headquarters, I’d like to invite desired businesses to explore Airdrie. We need to focus on what we want, not what we don’t want.
Mike De Bokx
Working with the business community is a passion of mine and my experience in this regard is something to see as a significant asset I will bring to council. We need to continue pursuing new and diversified businesses to open in Airdrie. Greater variety of industries and sizes of businesses will increase job opportunities and the potential of higher wages for Airdronians going forward.
I did a quick research on jobs in Canada. First, I found web developer is the tenth highest paid job in Canada for someone with no university degree (slice.ca). Second, software engineers saw a 46 per cent increase in jobs since 2010 (canadianbusiness.com). And last, a report released by the Information and Communications Technology Council (2016) estimates that 218,000 tech jobs will be created in Canada by 2020. We must have incentives to receive these jobs and create opportunities for our tech people to get a great job in a growing area. We need to adapt to the job market.
We would approach existing business in and outside of our city to find what it would take to expand and do business in Airdrie. We then can put a plan in motion that covers the business, developer and city together and ensure the plan moves forward. Expanding our industrial area is a must, with access to labour, roads and space to grow our workforce. Working together we can ensure a strong and vibrant city. Not only will this keep our citizens working in our city but it will attract more people, in turn new business ventures, to Airdrie.
One of the best things about Airdrie is that people want to come here. We need to focus on the working part of the live, work and play equation. Through our city’s Economic Development team, whose skills and perseverance lay in this area, we can develop strategies to make this happen. Airdrie has the physical space to attract new employers in both the business and public sector to locate here. Partnering with our active Chamber of Commerce whose members can share their Airdrie success stories with potential employers would help as well. Airdrie’s economic climate is ripe for job creation.
As a founding member of both Airdrie Health Foundation and Airdrie and Area Health Benefits Co-operative, we have been seven years working towards at health campus that will address health needs and provide entry level, midlevel and high-level career positions. Each year we send our best and brightest elsewhere to develop careers and families. I have had high-level talks with people of means to build a 5,000- to 8,000-seat arena with banquet facilities and only infrastructure support from the tax base. There is much interest but investment capital needs commitment and stability. I will work to ensure both.
As a councillor, we do not have much influence over wages directly, but that would be a natural outcome of a strong economy. To build a strong economy we need additional land that is zoned for industrial and commercial development and I would encourage staff to leverage our geographic location to attract large industrial businesses that employ large numbers of people.
Just as any business must invest to create new revenue, so must a city. I would like to see the Economic Development team expanded to include one or two members whose sole focus would be on attracting high-end, long-term industry such as technology and healthcare services. These are sustainable industries that make for long-term, stable careers. Small business is the backbone of the community but we need more big businesses to provide a wider tax base that will in turn afford us the infrastructure for a higher quality of life for all citizens.
I would like to see innovation and an economically diverse industry when it comes to job/career choice. Currently, the City is working on a 10-year economic plan and has engaged financial institutions, real estate, post-secondary education, professional services and other industry to help shape that vision. I look forward to seeing what the consultation process has to suggest. Airdrie can pursue options for post-secondary choices, as well as encourage industry specific growth. It would be great to see us expand on technology attraction and industrial opportunities.
I am interested in the idea of trades training for youth. Rather than our children leaving Airdrie in search of their “life,” I would be interested to explore with the provincial government an aggressive trades training program which inspired our youth to explore their creativity while earning Red Seal certification in their chosen field. University is not for everyone and the trades are a fast track to solid compensation and a future of real contribution.
Regulate understaffed senior care homes to increase staff to a specific number of caregivers to seniors. This will benefit seniors and create more jobs. A new women and children’s shelter would establish permanent and long-term jobs such as staffing and security. It would allow women and children to take refuge in a familiar place. It keeps them here to sustain business in Airdrie. Build a hospital in Airdrie where it would establish jobs. Look to regulate commercial rental rates to encourage small business to come to Airdrie.
Attracting new businesses to Airdrie means keeping Airdrie’s low tax advantage. The business of government is reading the global marketplace and understanding what it means to be a competitive jurisdiction. We also need to make sure Airdrie is a great place to live for educated people who earn the highest wages. This is done by reducing red tape and keeping costs low. I am opposed to the idea of offering subsidies to attract business. Those enterprises tend to be migratory, staying only as long as the incentives last.
The best way to develop a better job market in Airdrie is to work with Economic Development on attracting new businesses to our city. We have a great location, available land and the foresight to envision it – we just need to put a plan in action. In addition, putting more weight behind our SMARTstart program and post-secondary education options to ensure we have the best employees for the jobs. By adding skills and offering mentorship to our workers, they can earn higher wages, while being able to stay close to home.
As a city we have provided a major incentive – no business tax – but it appears it is only being used by certain markets. Other markets are still struggling to find ways to keep the companies within Airdrie. After talking to many small businesses, high rent in Airdrie is one of the major restraints. We need to discuss how we can provide affordable rent for these companies, to help them remain in Airdrie. We also need to examine how tourism could help provide jobs within the community. I truly believe there are potential return and career opportunities there.
Airdrie has been known as a bedroom community for years and I would like to see more people working, as well as living in Airdrie. The 2017-19 budget includes promoting the plan for the annexed lands – placing a high priority on industrial business development – so more jobs can be brought to Airdrie. The idea of a business incubator project is also in the works. Businesses can get help to establish, which will lead to long-term success for the business and long-term jobs for residents.
Question was sent to all candidates for whom the Airdrie City View has contact information, however, not all responded by press time.