While some are proclaiming an end to the recession, incoming Red Deer Chamber of Commerce president Dom Mancuso isn’t ready to crack out the champagne just yet.
Technically, the economy may have turned the corner, said Mancuso on Wednesday, but it will likely be some time before many Central Alberta businesses can breathe easy.
“Really as a business owner we could be 12 months away from that yet,” he said. “So there’s a lot of hard work yet to do.
“So with the Chamber we’re hoping to be able to help them as business owners work their way through it.”
Mancuso, who with brother Pino owns Northland Construction Supplies, which has operations in Red Deer and other major centres, is acutely aware of the recession’s impact.
“Being in construction, it’s tough right now. Residential has been down 18 months-plus. Commercial construction was pretty good last year and this year is not doing so well,” he said.
“Indications going forward is it’s going to be a tough winter. But by next spring we should start to see some signs of recovery.
“Really, what it comes down to is if we can get the oil and the price of natural gas up over the winter, then you’re going to start to see some things happening over the winter, especially in Central Alberta, (because) we’re an oilfield services centre.”
Mancuso said the main role of the Chamber, especially when times are tough, is to offer support and provide information.
To that end, TD Bank Financial Group Bank chief economist Don Drummond has been invited back to provide his expert take on the state of the economy.
“By talking to these individuals or listening to these individuals maybe that will help them to understand where the end is. Really, that’s what it comes down to — where is the end? Are we six months out? Are we 12 months out?
“Once people feel good about what’s coming then everything changes. People’s ideas and thoughts and purchasing changes as well.”
Besides offering support, the Chamber has also proven an effective lobbyist, he said. The business group joined efforts to highlight the crisis in the pork industry for the federal and provincial governments, a campaign that led the feds to roll out an economic package to help producers.
The Chamber has also joined forces with Red Deer Regional Economic Development and Central Alberta Economic Partnership to step up efforts to boost foreign direct investment in the area from North America and farther abroad.