Red Deer great place to start a business
Looking for a good city to start a business in?
Red Deer should be high on your list, based on a study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The national business organization released its annual Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities report on Monday. It included a ranking of 103 cities with populations greater than 25,000, and Red Deer was sixth on the list.
That’s an improvement from the CFIB’s 2010 and 2011 reports, in which the Central Alberta city ranked seventh. In 2009, it placed 32nd.
John Sennema, manager of Red Deer’s Land and Economic Development Department, said he’s pleased to see the city’s placement continue to improve.
“It helps with our identity,” he said, adding that Red Deer has ranked high on other, similar lists in the past.
“Anytime we have something like this, I think it’s completely positive for the city of Red Deer.
“We’ve got to get the word out that we’re here and it’s not just Calgary and Edmonton and Fort McMurray.”
Those communities placed 13th, eighth and 14th respectively on the CFIB list. Grande Prairie remained in the top spot for the third consecutive year, with Saskatoon, Sask. second, Regina, Sask. third, Moose Jaw, Sask. fourth and Lloydminster fifth. Rounding out the top 10 after Red Deer were Prince Albert, Sask.; Edmonton, Lethbridge and St. John’s, N.L.
The CFIB rankings were compiled using 14 criteria, which in turn were grouped into three categories: presence, perspective and policy. Presence consisted of business growth and industrial diversity, perspective was based on the optimism and growth plans of entrepreneurs, and policy covered government impacts like taxes and regulations.
Red Deer earned 12 out of a possible 25 points for presence, which the CFIB rated as “moderate.” Under perspective, it scored 21 out of 35, which was considered “strong”; and for policy it was awarded 27 out of 40 points, which was also rated “strong.”
Sennema said the criteria are useful in that they suggest the types of things that contribute to a strong business environment.
“Which we can use to understand what we’re succeeding in and where we can improve.”
He noted that the CFIB report found that Red Deer firms were among the most optimistic in the country when it came to their hiring expectations and outlook. That’s consistent with the message city officials have been getting from the business community, said Sennema.
“We know that labour attraction is a huge priority for a lot of businesses.”
Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s Alberta director, said it’s great to see five Alberta communities in the top 10.
“Many of our province’s urban centres continue to be entrepreneurial hot spots compared to other major municipalities across Canada.”
However, Truscott also pointed out that the high marks earned by Alberta cities were due largely to good results in the presence and perspective categories.
“A stronger focus on creating small-business friendly policies would certainly help improve the rankings for Alberta’s cities even further,” he said. “Sadly, entrepreneurs in many of our cities continue to succeed in spite of politicians and policy-makers, not because of them.”
Red Deer was an exception, getting good scores under the policy criteria. But Sennema said the city can do even better.
“There are still people who think there’s too much bureaucracy and red tape,” he acknowledged, “but we try very hard to facilitate business, not get in the way of it.”
The CFIB represents more than 109,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Canada.