Councillor Survey Question 7

What do you think is the best approach to attract businesses to Red Deer? Direct incentives to specific businesses, paid for by slightly higher taxes, or lower tax rates for all businesses.

Janise Somer:

Improve our downtown! Every relocation decision, be it a family or a business, is made with an image of place in mind. That image is powerful and physical … a picture of buildings, streets, cafes AND the feelings and social life that are associated with those places. Whether good or bad, that image is hard to shake! And, with rare exception, that image is downtown. Every city’s reputation is largely based on the downtown. If the downtown doesn’t look good, the city doesn’t look good. People won’t want to move here and it will be that much harder for citizens to feel good about the place they have chosen to live. A beautiful and vibrant downtown can be the rising tide that lifts all ships.


Brenda Campbell:

I feel we need to retain and attract businesses in a big way. This involves establishing relationships, making things as easy and seamless as possible with regards to permits, licensing etc. and lowering tax rates for all businesses. We've lost too many businesses to the county alone and need to rectify this. It's better to have higher occupancy with lower taxes than empty lots/land and buildings not generating any revenue/tax income.


Bruce Buruma:

Red Deer needs to prove we want businesses to succeed! To do so, the City has to be competitive, responsive and service oriented so businesses are confident investing in our City. That is not our current reputation. Tax breaks and incentives are a lever, but likely not a deal breaker when businesses and individuals are putting everything on the line. Businesses will go where it makes the most sense and it provides the right return on their investment. We need to listen and respond to the needs of business--that will attract investment.


Kraymer Barnstable:

As stated earlier I believe lower tax rates for all businesses would allow us to attract business and also be able to retain current businesses from fleeing Red Deer.


Victor Doerksen:

As mentioned before, it’s the cities job to provide basic infrastructure, such as water and wastewater; transportation corridors; recreational infrastructure; predictable and competitive taxes; and a responsive regulatory system. After that get out of the way and let developers and investors do what they do best. I’m not a big fan of boutique tax incentives as they usually distort the market.


Dianne Wyntjes:

These days, there is a lot of economic competitiveness among all Alberta municipalities to attract businesses to their municipality. Red Deer is no different. That economic attractions and development work continues through the City’s Economic Development staff team, and through CAEP - the Central Alberta Economic Partnership. We need to know our competitors - what is their community saying to attract investment? Many municipalities offer incentives. The City of Red Deer has done this as well in the past few years but what else, might bring return on investment with incentives offered? Red Deer should also review all marketing initiatives to promote Red Deer as a City of choice and a preferred central Alberta location. What can we do better? Attention to retention and current Red Deer businesses. There’s a statistic that 80% of growth comes from current and local/regional businesses and 20% from new businesses that come to the city/region. Red Deer must also have serviced land supply - residential, commercial and industrial. Along with conversations with the School Districts and Red Deer Polytechnic to ensure we have available, skilled and qualified employees/workforce. And it’s important we focus on what we can do to prevent “brain drain” so Red Deer and Alberta retains youth and experienced employees in Red Deer. Ensuring the business community is aware of available Federal and Provincial grants through our City and community systems is important, and working with organizations such as the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association and the Construction, Land Development and Real Estate Industry Election Questions. Aligned with the Province, the City completed red tape reductions these past few years. The City should continue to review what other regulatory hoops need to be considered for ease of doing business with the City, or what’s missing. Along with zoning and bylaws reviews. What’s working? What’s not working? Having scheduled round table discussions and evaluation with the community is a must. Hearing directly form the business and development community with ideas, concerns and feedback. What are segments or niches where we can expand in Red Deer? Ensuring we have the research and data information about gaps in industry and identifying the opportunities to fill them. Quality broadband in Red Deer; dealing with the service providers to address the areas in Red Deer where there are dropped calls and weak service. In the next Council term, I’d like to bring together Red Deer community leaders and we work together on the “Red Deer Plan” to go to Edmonton and lobby the Province for Red Deer as a future site for any suitable future major sector that is being approached to come to Alberta. Our city is on a major corridor and consideration must be given to our city/region rather than and often the two major cities. Red Deer must also be recognized with plans in place for any future stop for high speed rail between Edmonton and Calgary. Last, liveability and quality of life of a city are investment attractions when someone or a business chooses Red Deer. This includes having high quality health care, education and post secondary education, recreation, vibrant arts and culture and a welcoming community vibe for Red Deer to be a community of choice for business attraction and investment. Red Deer has and should continue to review tax rates comparable to all Alberta municipalities; Red Deer is often middle of the pack in Alberta. There must always be the continuous lens to the tax ratio between residential, multi-family and non-residential while the City continues to provide municipal services.


Chad Krahn:

The City has a significant amount of work to do in terms of economic development. There are a number of things that the City needs to work on to be easier to deal with for businesses. This includes guaranteed turnaround time for permits and automating permits where possible, having a better procurement system for city projects, looking into preferred contractors for local projects. The next council will need to political will to look through the bylaws which are currently risk averse and work to weed out anything that will have unintended consequences. This will require political will that has not been seen by the past two councils. Tax incentives should be used sparingly as they often result in unintended consequences. Some businesses can only survive with tax incentives and move on to the next tax incentive place once their current incentive ends. I would much rather the city take an economic gardening approach than a tax incentive approach.


Ryan Laloge:

Lower or competitive property taxes is a starting point and moving there over time is overdue.


Vesna Higham:

Lower tax rates for all business, for sure. When government gets out of the way in terms of regulatory red tape etc., the private sector tends to flourish.


Cindy Jefferies:

I think either approach could work. I need more information on this to see the impact of one versus the other. Maybe a combination works?

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