Not surprisingly, over the past few years, much of the coffee shop and online discussion is around the economy. Many believe the Alberta economy is starting to see an improvement while others are still feeling the effects of the downturn.
In Airdrie, I have had many of those same discussions. In our community – like the rest of the province – we have seen residents lose their jobs due to weak global oil prices and some businesses close as a result of loss of revenue and spending cut-backs. It’s hard to watch that happen.
But we have also seen many positive things happening as well. As economic developers, we are eternal optimists. Even in a weak economy we have seen many individuals take charge of their future and start their own business or change careers. Did you know that Airdrie has more than 1,400 home-based entrepreneurs that deliver products and services every day? Not only do they contribute economically to our community, but provincially and nationally. In fact, in 2016 alone, we saw 146 new entrepreneurs start their own home-based business in Airdrie.
These businesses support the local community in so many ways and, in some cases, will grow into storefronts or office space. We know through surveys that more than 25 per cent of Airdrie home-based businesses want to eventually move into a storefront operation.
Airdrie has an incredible reputation in Canada as a great place to start a business. Over the last two years we have seen new investment in the form of 42 new commercial or industrial businesses opening right here in our community.
Almost every week we are privileged to have a new business open up to service Airdrie. These businesses cross-represent many different sectors and types. There is an incredible optimism and entrepreneurial spirit in our community. Airdrie has a strong market and a great surrounding trade area that makes it exciting to open a business here.
As we’ve seen over the past number of years the world is changing and we must change with it. Some of our old ways of thinking will not be sustainable as we move forward. Home-based business can now be million-dollar companies that are using technology to market to the world. We are seeing retail stores and even banks become smaller so they can use the internet as a complement to their storefront operations versus choosing one over the other.
I always admire people who have a dream of owning their own business and my team and I are fortunate to see some very innovative companies start up in Airdrie. These businesses are the soul of our community. As residents, we need to understand and appreciate the risk these entrepreneurs are taking to provide us with the products and services we want and need.
So, as we start to see more optimism in the provincial economy, I think it’s important to take the time to look around Airdrie and appreciate the diversity of our business community, and remember to support it in good times and challenging times. Stop in somewhere new, see what they have to offer and get to know the owner. At the end of the day, it’s about neighbours helping neighbours.
Kent Rupert is a Team Leader with Airdrie Economic Development.