‘Entrepreneurial spirit’ aplenty in City, says report

Red Deer ranked seventh in Canada for entrepreneurial strength

Red Deer’s entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the midst of a recovering economy, according to a newly-released report.

The City landed a ranking of seventh out of 100 Canadian cities in the Communities in Boom Top Entrepreneurial Cities study.

The report, released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), looks at a range of indicators for the small business and entrepreneur environment in cities with populations over 25,000. In some cases, the report breaks down census metropolitan areas such as Toronto and Vancouver into core and suburban areas.

Meanwhile, local stakeholders said the report shows the positive attitude in terms of exploring new ventures that is common to many City businesses.

“I was pleased when I heard the news,” said Bruce Schollie, president of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, adding he wouldn’t have been surprised if the City had earned an even higher ranking.

“The Chamber is really about helping create an environment good for business. So when we see this news, we know we are one of several groups where that is our mission.”

Schollie also said the high ranking can’t help but bolster further interest in the City from a business perspective.

“This helps put us on the radar screen of companies looking to expand in Red Deer. Many will say ‘Let’s take a closer look’ at this City.”

Red Deer’s prime location on the Calgary-Edmonton corridor also helps make it an attractive place for entrepreneurs to set up shop, he said.

For the report, cities were assessed in 12 core indicators which are then grouped into three categories: ‘presence, perspective, and policy’.

Red Deer’s strongest rankings were in the presence category which included business start-up rates, business per capita ratio, self-employment intensity and industry employment diversity.

The policy category considers such things as local government sensitivity to local business, local government tax balance and whether the City has subscribed to the BizPal program — something the City of Red Deer recently signed onto.

BizPaL is an online permit and license program that saves time and paperwork for businesses. It takes a prospective business owner through a series of steps and questions and ends up producing a customized document showing what permits and licenses necessary from all levels of government to start up a venture.

The study also measured the concentration of entrepreneurs, business start-up rates, optimistic perspectives, operational successes and level of support from local governments in the form of tax incentives and favorable regulatory policies.

“This ranking is evidence that the Red Deer Region has a strong, optimistic business community which thrives on independent, hard-working entrepreneurs,” said Michelle Zeggil of Red Deer Regional Economic Development (RDRED), an alliance between Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, the City of Red Deer, Red Deer County and Red Deer College formed in 2001.

“Red Deer entrepreneurs are ready for investments, local and international, to help expand and strengthen their businesses. The backbone of a local economy is often the entrepreneurial spirit of business, and that’s something Red Deer has.”

“Companies in the Red Deer Region benefit from the strong business networks that allow access to industry experts, trade organizations and business development support,” said Zeggil.

CFIB used Statistics Canada sources, as well as feedback from their over 107,000 members across Canada.

Other top 10 entrepreneurial index finishers include Grande Prairie in the number one position, followed by Lloydminster, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, Sask.

Kelowna, B.C. is cited as number five in the rankings, followed by Edmonton, Red Deer and Parksville, B.C.

St. Georges, Que. and Wood Buffalo, AB. round out the top 10.