Business Retention and Expansion initiative launched in Swift Current

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Al Chilton, partner at Pharmasave and a City of Swift Current Economic Advisory Committee member clicks the green Go button to participate in the Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) initiative survey, under the watchful eye of Darla Lindbjerg, CEO, Swift Current and District Chamber of Commerce; Garry Koebel, President of the Downtown Business Association; and Susan Motkaluk, City of Swift Current Chief Administrative Officer.

Swift Current businesses are invited to have their say in contributing to a stronger business community through their participation in an initiative launched by the Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) initiative.

The initiative's website went live on Monday, and will be collecting important direct business feedback until Fri., Feb. 14. The BRE process provides businesses the opportunity to voice any needs and issues they have.

Garry Koebel, President of the Downtown Business Association, sees the BRE initiative as a great opportunity for businesses to come together collaboratively to coordinate efforts and build consensus around joint plans for the business community.

"As business owners, we understand the importance of a business plan to guide our ongoing operations. BRE is all about just that, developing a plan for ongoing operations of all businesses in our community, and this makes complete sense to me. It's a smart way to do business."

Koebel highlighted that businesses need to adjust the way they do business moving forward, and they no longer can go it alone in light of global competition.

"By working together we can leverage our collective resources and further strengthen our odds for success as individual businesses and as a community."

"A positive business climate and strong local economy is the overall goal of the BRE initiative. To achieve this, we must engage all of our local businesses to lead us forward."

Al Chilton, partner of Pharmasave and a City of Swift Current Economic Advisory Committee member, said this current initiative is a key step to continuing the business momentum in the Southwest. He said this opportunity has the potential to be as successful as Action Swift Current was a number of years ago.

"The times in Swift Current were very different. The community itself was stalled. Instead of change we were kicking stones down the street. It was through the commitment and energy of people like yourselves, and the community itself, that we came together and finally saw the power of one."

"It's great to see this restarting. If you don't measure yourself, if you don't do some research every once and a while, you'll never find out what you may be lacking, may need, or what opportunities are truly there."

Chilton said that ideas generated by the BRE need to be good for the entire community, not just one sector.

"One of the most important things we will have to do in this initiative is again listen carefully, and listen very carefully. The answers will be there," he said. "We need to make sure that the silos of self interest do not rebuild."

Sandra Blyth CEO of consulting firm Onagon International, the lead consulting firm for the project, said the survey is aiming to collect some very specific data.

"It's all about really figuring out how business perceives the business community in Swift Current. What are the things that are working, what are the things that aren't working," Blyth said. "It really gets into some general areas, and then some more specific areas."

"Some of the questions talk about labour. How's labour going? How are you doing with hiring people? What tools are you using to hire people or source individuals? It also gets into things like infrastructure. Are you happy with the systems of infrastructure in the City of Swift Current?"

"There's a lot of information in there, but it's critical pieces of information that'll allow the City of Swift Current to be able to plan and move forward with economic and business development planning that fits the business community. So it's an opportunity for business to really have a voice, and be able to effect the action that happens moving forward."

The objectives of the BRE Initiative are to:

• Accurately assess the needs of local business

• Contribute to the development of a strategic action plan for economic prosperity

• Provide support/information to address immediate individual business issues and opportunities

• Enhance cooperation and consensus among businesses, local government and economic development organizations

“Helping develop our existing businesses and creating wealth and jobs is critical to the health and vitality of any community,” says Darla Lindbjerg, CEO, Swift Current and District Chamber of Commerce. “The BRE initiative has already been implemented with very good results in many countries around the globe over the last 25 years. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it not only contributes to a long range plan for the community but also yields some short-range tangible results.  I am very excited to hear what our businesses have to say about Swift Current as a place to do business. This project will assist us, as a Chamber, to identify and focus our priorities in areas that are most important to our business community.”    

Swift Current and area businesses have been contacted by mail asking them to participate in the confidential on-line initiative which runs until Valentine's Day.

Following the conclusion of the on-line collection period, the BRE Committee will respond to any businesses that have identified items that require immediate attention and will help provide alternatives and potential solutions.  

After all data is collected, the project then moves into the strategic planning phase, when the City of Swift Current, together with its Economic Advisory Committee and the BRE Committee will engage the business community in a process that addresses the findings and generates concrete strategies for economic prosperity of Swift Current and the surrounding area.

Organizations: Downtown Business Association, Swift Current and District Chamber of Commerce, Business Retention and Expansion Committee Swift Current Economic Advisory Committee

Geographic location: Swift Current

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