Strong year for business development

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Airdrie’s business economy is continuing to flourish and grow, according to a new report issued by the City of Airdrie. The number of business licenses issued rose from 3,699 in 2016 to 3,944 in 2017 – a 6.6 per cent increase, according to Kent Rupert, team leader of Economic Development.

“Certainly the fact that our business licenses were up by 6.6 per cent as we’re still coming out of a downturn, I think that really positions Airdrie well and shows that we’re still growing,” he said. “People still believe in the market here.”

Rupert said much of the growth has been commercial, including the opening of developments in Midtown and Cooper’s Promenade and the continued build out of Sierra Springs and Kingsview Market.

A total of 103 new commercial/industrial and 391 home-based businesses started in 2017. This growth added 715 new full- and part-time jobs in the city.

A total of 303 commercial/industrial building permits were issued in 2017, but the value of those permits was lower than in 2016 – permits last year had a total value of $28 million versus $55 million in 2016, according to Rupert.

A number of construction projects were started in 2017, including the office/warehouse project in Gateway – valued at $17.5 million – and the shopping centre in Sierra Springs valued at $28 million.

“Over the last two years, I would say investor confidence has been a little bit lower,” Rupert said. “We’re working with a lot of smaller industrial projects rather than the larger ones. As investor confidence starts to increase with the new normal of federal and provincial governments, I think we’ll start to see those bigger projects come in.”

Rupert said there was a shift in the kinds of residential product consumers were interested in in 2017.

“What was interesting on the residential side is our single family is higher than we’ve seen the last few years. The last number of years we’ve seen the multi-family really come on stream, and last year we sort of shifted back to the single family,” he said. “It’s possible the multi-family is capping out a little bit.”

Fewer residential permits were issued in 2017 – 2,379 versus 2,735 in 2016. The total value of residential construction in 2017 was $216 million, up from $203 million in 2016.

Rupert said Economic Development has almost completed the development of a 10-year strategy, which will be presented to City council in the second quarter of 2018.

“We’re always looking at ways to diversify the economy. One of the things we’re going to be looking at is a retail analysis – looking at what kinds of businesses we have here and maybe where some of the gaps are,” he said.

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