Shop local a mindset: Mayor

By Geoff Lee

March 3, 2016 10:49 AM

Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders, right, speaks with a resident during the Your Voice public forum at E.S. Laird Middle School in Feb 23. The following week Saunders spoke with the Source about how the city's purchasing and procurement policy discusssed at the first Your Voice event in November promotes shopping locally.

The city of Lloydminster is throwing its weight behind the shop local concept on multiple fronts including its new purchasing and procurement policy.
The new policy passed by Council in late January is designed to promote shopping locally through a more transparent procurement process.
“We make sure it’s open and it’s effective in our purchasing and it’s compliant with trade agreements and all pertinent legislation that we have to work with,” said Mayor Rob Saunders.
The new policy also assigns accountability with various signing authorities required for different dollar limits.
“We want to be sure that our purchasing is ethical and we really make sure that our taxpayers’ best value is derived through the acquisition of services,” said Saunders.
A possible exception to shopping local for the city would be for some of its major infrastructure requirements that Council would approve.
“All our requests for bids are put out publicly between $10,000 to $75,000 and, of course, everyone is open to equal opportunity to bid on those projects and those procurements,” adds Saunders.
Saunders said the city has a good enough mix of local businesses for people to shop locally with a steady stream of new retail commercial businesses being added.
“As we grow, we are complementing what we already have with new and maybe something that we haven’t had before,” said Saunders.
Fillmore Construction Co. is continuing it’s $13 million retail and commercial near the Real Canadian Superstore.
Brentwood Developments has completed the build out of phase 2 of the Brentwood Commons on the west side of the city providing residents with more localized places to shop.
Saunders said these and other new businesses provide people with more reasons to shop close to home.
“It adds to the options that are available to our residents and we just continue to add to that, and of course, we’re always listening to people on what they’re looking for that we could be missing,” said Saunders.
Despite the downturn in the oil and gas sector, Saunders said shop locally is almost an entrenched mindset in Lloydminster given the size of the service sector in the city that serves heavy oil.
Lloydminster is known around the world for its innovation and reputation as the heavy oil capital of the world when it comes to the development of new technology.
“Even the global market has benefited from the businesses that have been established here that sell their products around the world,” said Saunders who worked in the local oil industry for years.
Asked how the city has set the tone for consumers and businesses to shop locally throughout the year, Saunders mentioned renewed interest in downtown revitalization.
The Streetscapes Destination Downtown campaign aims to bring vibrancy to the city core and hopefully shoppers and more retailers will follow.
“We’re creating a people place and try to increase the interest and further enhance both our downtown and all our business sectors,” said Saunders.
The city plans to start implementing minor changes to downtown, like upgrades to infrastructure with the hope that incremental improvements year-by-year will have a strong impact over time.
“There’s opportunities for people to explore the new retail stores that are opening and all the establishments that are coming on board,” said Saunders.
Streetscape is just one example of the role the city plays to encourage people to shop locally with city agencies like the Lloydminster Economic Development Corporations in support roles.
“From our economic development corporation standpoint, we continually engage and support local businesses and promote them,” said Saunders.
He went on to state, “As a city overall, we’ve created a business friendly climate here and have created the opportunity for large capital investment and the opportunity for upstart businesses and entrepreneurs.”
A good example of that is the Lloydminster Regional Business Accelerator, a business incubator offering entrepreneurs and business startups coaching, networking opportunities and professional learning events.

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