Red Deer has made its mark among American Cities of the Future.
In April, fDi Magazine, a Financial Times publication, ranked Red Deer among the top North American cities for 2015-16 when it comes to cost effectiveness and foreign direct investment strategy.
“The more our profile is elevated because of these rankings, the more competitive we are in terms of attracting new business. But it also bodes well for us in retaining the business we have and instilling private sector confidence for business expansion,” Mayor Tara Veer said.
Red Deer was ranked fourth for cost effectiveness among micro American Cities of the Future and was the only Alberta city in the top 10.
Thirty-seven micro cities, with populations below 100,000, were part of the study.
Criteria for cost effectiveness includes average salaries, annual rent for commercial and industrial space, electricity rates, cost to export/import, cost of establishing a business and tax rates.
Nanaimo, B.C. took fifth place. Niagara Falls, Ont. was sixth. Brantford, Ont. was eighth, followed by Repentigny Que. in ninth place and Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que. in 10th position.
Atlacomulco, of Mexico State in Mexico, took the top spot for cost effectiveness.
Red Deer came in sixth in the foreign direct investment strategy category among micro cities and was the only Canadian city in the top eight. The list was restricted to eight due to shortage of suitable entries. Plattsburgh, N.Y., came in first.
When it comes to foreign direct investment, judges consider economic development, attraction and retention of foreign investment, and plans, strategies and policies.
City manager Craig Curtis said reaching top 10 status for micro cities in North America means Red Deer is a strong contender for attracting new business nationally and internationally.
Veer said Red Deer is also known for having one of the highest ratios of small businesses per capita.
In 2014, Red Deer was recognized for its entrepreneurialism, ranking sixth out of 121 mid-size cities, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ Top 10 Entrepreneurial Cities annual report.
She said right now business permits for start up and expansion are holding steady. Diminished growth is forecast for 2016, but the city will have lots in the works with 2019 Canada Winter Games capital projects, like the Centre for Health, Wellness & Sport at RDC, which were approved in previous budgets.
“By the time they go to design and tender and in construction, it will be during what is anticipated to be a lag time in the economy. So that will have economic spin off in terms of all of the employment that will generate for the region and will see us through till the economy improves,” Veer said.