Red Deer, Sylvan Lake among top business communities

Red Deer and Sylvan Lake have been ranked among Alberta’s top business communities by a business magazine.

Red Deer and Sylvan Lake have been ranked among Alberta’s top business communities by a business magazine.

Alberta Venture has just released its list of the province’s 12 great business communities on Monday.

Editor Michael Ganley says in the November issue that there is no recipe for success in making their list.

“There’s no single thing that makes a community a great place to do business,” says Ganley.

“It depends on the type of business and the natural strengths and weaknesses of the community. But one thing they all have in common is that they’ve made a conscious decision to support and encourage business because they recognize their importance.”

In Red Deer’s case, the city’s “pro-business administration” is lauded for taking full advantage of the city’s position within a two-hour’s drive of 80 per cent of Alberta’s population.

“Red Deer is becoming increasingly diversified, as industries from manufacturing to agricultural processing to professional services continue to spring up.”

The BOLT regional transit system is singled out as an example of forward thinking.

City of Red Deer land and economic development manager John Sennema said the attention is welcomed.

“For the most part, it just gives us recognition. It lets people know we’re here and open for business,” Sennema said.

Given the economic slowdown province-wide, this kind of positive review can only help as the city looks to attract investment.

The BOLT transit system is used an example of regional collaboration. However, the recent announcement (which came out after Alberta Venture’s story would have gone to press) that the province was joining forces with the City and County of Red Deer to spend $9.5 million upgrading the runways for larger aircraft is a more economically significant example.

“That just really helps for economic diversification in the region,” he said.

Sylvan Lake is recognized for investing more than $22 million in downtown and waterfront infrastructure and property upgrades. The town’s hospitality feasibility study, 38-per-cent building permit growth, active home building sector and recent annexations to provide room for future industrial, commercial and residential growth are also highlighted.

Economic development officer Vicki Kurz said the town has undertaken a number of other initiatives since Alberta Venture did its research.

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Retail gap analysis and tourism studies have been done and the town recently updated its website with profiles on its manufacturing, oil and gas, and professional, scientific and technical services sectors.

Kurz will be heading to the International Council of Shopping Centres annual meeting in Whistler, B.C., in January and Alberta Venture’s optimistic review of Sylvan Lake will be part of her pitch.

A third-party endorsement carries a lot of weight with potential investors, she said.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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