I believe cities thrive because the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and healthy! Supporting our small local business is important because when we buy local, significantly more of our money stays in and benefits the community. Entrepreneurs which include family-owned businesses are the backbone and lifeblood of small and mid-sized cities like ours. Local business owners are more likely to use other local businesses like banks and service providers. They are more often the ones that contribute to local causes, sponsor sports teams, and donate to non-profits. Locally owned businesses create more jobs and in some cases offer better wages and benefits than chain stores do. When you shop at local shops, you are putting money into the pockets of workers who may be your neighbors or family members, and their income in turn is often spent in our city as well. Entrepreneurs pay taxes, fuel a new generation of entrepreneurs, and invest in community projects. This enables further development beyond their own ventures.
There needs to be a balanced approach to our local economy. Right now I think we should be spending our time and efforts not on attracting any more big box stores. Let's focus on creative ideas to enhance and revitalize our downtown core attracting and increasing diversity of retail, services, and residential units. Locally owned and operated businesses are the economic, social, and cultural heart of our community. Unfortunately, this past year has left many struggling and unsure if they can continue. We could better spend our energies on the vital role local business plays in our community's economic health, and the financial pressures they are under, and what we as a municipal government can do to help them survive.
To be a small-business-friendly community, it is vitally important that we address key concerns and issues that face our local small business owners. The process of obtaining business permits, approvals, and licenses needs to be streamlined and efficient. I have heard from many local business owners, and know from personal experience, that the permitting process can strangle an emerging business in red tape. Non-resident tax increases need to be carefully considered as a spike in tax rates has the negative impact of layoffs, raised prices, and lower inventory. Breathing new life into our downtown center needs to continue to be a priority, encouraging pedestrian traffic and removing eyesore and vacant run-down buildings. Signage regulations need review, as the strict bylaws inhibit the ability for many small stores to promote, advertise, and market themselves effectively.
Small businesses give a city a sense of community. When you walk into a local business they will often recognize you and may even know your name. Local businesses give our community its personality. Other cities have similar chain restaurants, grocery stores, and big box stores but the businesses like RavenWolf Brewing Co Ltd, Knighton Men's Wear, Perks Coffeehouse, Broadway & Grande and Gifts & Gadgets Backyards Bird and Nature are one-of-a-kind, offering unique products and services. Our own city’s many local businesses are what make Spruce Grove distinctly different from other cities around us. By supporting these businesses instead of chain stores we ensure that uniqueness is preserved as a part of our community. Many small businesses are also managed by the owners so we often get a better level of service and access to custom-requested products and services. When you shop local nearly 48% of the cost of your purchase recirculated back into our local economy, but with a chain store, that number drops to 14%. Instead of taking your hard-earned dollars to a billion-dollar chain store, think about how beneficial it would be to invest them in our local economy and help support a small business owner's family.
I do try to stay away from large, impersonal big-box retailers and shop with small local business as much as I can.
BUT who hasn’t shopped at a big box store? I believe it’s important to our city’s economic health to have a few, as they contribute to our food bank, provide affordable prices and pay taxes. Save-on-Foods hosted and supported me in my efforts, where I raised over $1000 for our local Parkland Food Bank. We need a BALANCED approach and an understanding that it's small, locally owned businesses that have the most positive economic impact on our City.