Lloydminster has slipped from first to sixth among Canada’s top ranked mid-sized cities to start and grow a business in 2015 with low oil prices and economic uncertainty to blame.
Despite the lower rank in the Canadian Federation of Independent Business report, the Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation says our city hasn’t lost its entrepreneurial spirit.
“Given all that’s gone on, all the changes in the economic conditions and the price of oil - going from first to a few down the list - we’re still top 10 in Canada which is pretty darned good,” said corporation CEO Ward Read.
The city’s top ranking a year ago for cities with a population of under 150,000 was taken over this year by Penticton, British Columbia with Grande Prarrie a close second.
Read, however; finds little reason for local business to worry about the reduced rating in the long term.
“Definitely this is a time when businesses and people are thinking a little bit longer about decisions before taking action,” he said.
“But here in Lloyd, we know we’ve been through a lot of energy cycles before and we’ll probably go through some more. Things are slow now, but will increase.
“Part of the reason we’ve done as well as we have over the years is a strong base of sharp business people and entrepreneurs willing to take risks and try and better their situations.”
CFIB’s Entrepreneurial Communities report takes an in-depth look at how121 cities and economic regions in Canada support and promote entrepreneurship.
It scores each of them out of 100 by looking at 14 indicators in the three main categories of presence, perspective and policy factors pertaining to business vitality.
Lloydminster scored 69.4 compared to Penticton at 72.7, but the numbers don’t reveal the full extent of business activity or growth taking place at the ground level.
As an example, Read said when he moved to Lloydminster in 2007, it was a record year for construction with $82 million of permits.
See “Business,” Page 7
Despite the current economic downturn, Read estimates 2015 will end with $100 million in permitted construction in the city.
“That’s kind of an illustration of the advancements in growth of this community and the resiliency,” he said.
Read noted that projects such as the ongoing development of Brentwood Commons at the west end of Lloydminster and the redevelopment of the LloydMall speak to the confidence of retail growth in the city.
“Another thing that keeps us strong is the fact that we have a strong population here, but we also service probably an hour or an hour and half radius around us.,” said Read.
“We are the largest service hub for retail and other professional services. That helps to keep our community very strong.”
Choice Properties is also planning to expand the retail mix on land near the Canadian Superstore in the coming months.
“There’s a number of projects that are being planned and underway for some time - as well a commitment to the economy,” said Read.
As for the impact of the Liberals’ win in the federal election on the local economy Read said, ” It will be interesting to see what really happens.
“I think what matters to the businesses is sort of the uncertainty.”
The election of the NDP in Alberta last May adds to the uncertainty in the short haul says Read.
“I think once we’ve been through it - we’ve started to have several months with the new provincial government - when the liberal government gets their feet under them, I think things will start to make some more sense,” he said.
“We’ve had lots of liberal governments in the past and we’ve worked well and been able to advance our community and our economy during those times as well as conservative governments.”
Meanwhile, Read’s office is continuing its priority of 2015 to connect with business and shop owners and learn more about Lloydminster and it’s economy in face to face conversations.
Read says his office wants to learn about “some of the things that have been real assets that have helped our businesses stay strong and grow over the years and some of the hurdles we have to knock out of the way so our businesses can grow.
“On the tourism front, we keep pursuing events and we service every investment and business related inquiry that comes our way.”