Councillor Survey Question 7
What do you think is the best approach to attract businesses to Lethbridge? Direct incentives to specific businesses, paid for by slightly higher taxes, or lower tax rates for all businesses.
To attract businesses to Lethbridge, you have to first attract the workers and their families to the City. You have to ensure that there are adequate (and well maintained) amenities whether recreational, sporting, cultural, artistic, and the like that would make families want to live and work here. That's the first step. In terms of the employer incentives, the City has given tax deferrals and abatements for a period of time to attract businesses but each case is unique so I would support such programs on a case by case basis.
We try to attract business to increase our tax base, thus reducing the burden for existing residents & business. I believe the improvements to the airport and to the Lethbridge EX are two key developments that will lead to attract new business. Both of these projects were on my list of “needs” going back to my 2017 campaign.
I feel very strongly that providing direct incentives is the way you go, as it’s fair to everyone involved.
We have to let outside businesses know that Lethbridge is not only a great place to have a business but outside of that business, it’s a great place to live. The more businesses we have in Lethbridge along with the residential tax base, the more we can even the tax structure out.
There is no appetite amongst businesses to raise taxes. This question implies there are only two options which I do not agree with. Given the question and knowing we can't raise taxes then I guess I would choose the latter.
I think that we don't need to touch the tax rate for businesses in order to attract new businesses here. Instead we need a City Hall that takes an active role in decreasing overregulation of businesses, addresses poor planning decisions from decades past (like a minimum parking requirement and other useless/backwards development policies), and incubates local businesses through our education partners at the University of Lethbridge. Reducing red tape at city hall and helping businesses get up and running with proactive departments for small independent shops will be imperative in stabilizing the local economy for future external pressures. A diverse and local-based economy is more stable than a monocultural global-centric economy by far.
I would prefer lower over all tax rates but I could support a direct incentive if the business would bring large scale employment.
I believe in fairness across the board. I do not believe in tax incentives as the playing field has been tipped in favor to that company, whereas another company may have not received that benefit. It is a sensitive issue and needs to be handled fairly and equitably.
I think increasing the positive image of the city and reducing its notoriety will change public perceptions. This will automatically make Lethbridge a more attractive place to do business. Add to that the new Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre, a renovated Airport and you will see business being attracted to all that Lethbridge has to offer. A stable regional economy, a skilled workforce, reasonably priced housing, access to world-class tourism destinations like Waterton Park, Writing-On-Stone, the Lethbridge Viaduct and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo jump among many others. Adjusting business taxes isn’t necessary any further than what the provincial government has already done.
1. This is where the law of unintended consequences can come back to bite. We are, like it or not, in competition with other communities to attract new businesses. This often means that, to compete, we need to offer some level of incentives. Done correctly, these incentives will help to grow the local economy and float all boats including the businesses already here. Two things we can do in this regard: Be strategic. Work to attract businesses that compliment (i.e. vertically integrate) with the business that are already here. 2. Be fair. Business already here should not be penalized for not needing incentives. Instead, leveraging the presence of our educational institutions to support new business with research, development, skilled workers, and graduates create a win-win for all involved while minimizing distortions to the local economy. 3. Be creative. The City has a great deal of resources at its disposal which can be used as a catalyst to attract investment, financial assistance, and support for start-ups. I propose a group of up to 10 incubators established in partnership with successful businesses from across Canada, to focus on areas of strategic interest. Each of these 10 incubators would have matching Seed Capital Funds for the purpose of leveraging additional funding from public and private sources for market research prototype development, marketing, and growth funding.
Rather than continually focusing on attracting business to Lethbridge, we need to put more focus on retaining business in Lethbridge (and helping existing Lethbridge businesses expand) and in developing entrepreneurs and businesses from within Lethbridge. If these two groups succeed, then other businesses would by nature be attracted to this community. The City needs to ensure we have the infrastructure that supports these businesses – transportation infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, etc. The City needs to work with partners to help solve problems facing local businesses. Currently, the largest issue is a labour shortage and recruiting skilled workers. The new Council needs to immediately get to work with partners and businesses on looking at solutions in this area. The City also needs to reach out to these businesses and continue ongoing conversations around what barriers these businesses are facing and determine a plan of action to help tackle these barriers (again, in partnerships).
Marketing Lethbridge as a sustainable market place to prospective business is key. The City needs to keep active in promotion of the City at national and international trade fares, keying upon our infrastructure and the opportunities for business to start and grow in the City. The City needs to promote the City keying on our strong points including improvements to our airport, proximity to the United States Border, excellent road transit routes in all directions of the City. Our availability of workers in the community. The City has to be careful in offering direct incentives or tax breaks as existing businesses could be adversely affected or felt discriminated against.
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