SUNDRE — The municipality has teamed up with the Sundre & District Chamber of Commerce to conduct a survey with the objective of not only better understanding the local economy but also to obtain input that will help guide future programs.
Business owners are encouraged to participate by providing input on the status of their enterprise as well as their overall level of satisfaction with conducting business in the area, reads a portion of a press release dated July 16.
The town’s economic development department recently launched the program, which will rely on interviews with dozens of local business owners covering a spectrum of relevant topics including workforce attraction, local supply chain factors as well as plans for growth or expansion.
Dubbed Business Visitation and Triage, the initiative will also aim to assess owners’ level of satisfaction regarding numerous factors that will be used as key performance indicators in a further effort to gauge the vitality of the local commercial economy, reads the town’s statement.
The results will enable the municipality to establish a benchmark level of satisfaction that will be used as a reference in potential future iterations of the program, as well as to identify additional economic development efforts that might be needed to support business attraction, retention and expansion.
Interviews are primarily being conducted by telephone, with each business being assigned a unique identifier to ensure the tabulation and statistical analysis of results are not disproportionately tilted in one direction as a result of multiple responses from a single company.
MDB Insight, a third party outside company that specializes in economic development and statistical research, was contracted at a cost of about $6,830 to compile the results and submit their findings for review and analysis.
“The point of the program is also to identify so-called ‘red flags’,” said Jon Allan, economic development officer, explaining why the survey has been dubbed a triage.
“That is, to identify those businesses that have expressed a fear of closing or moving out of town, and then working with those businesses to come up with a plan to stay afloat or find a buyer. So, instead of a medical triage, it’s an economic one."
However, he added there is more to the program than that.
“We are also hoping to determine areas where businesses are having difficulty recruiting staff," he said. "With proper empirical evidence, we’ll be able to submit information to Red Deer College, thanks to our new partnership with Campus Alberta Central, on where gaps in the labour market exist and training could be provided.”
The survey also covers supply chain issues, and if a pattern indicating that a gap in local supply is emerging appears, that information could be used in an attempt to attract new businesses to fill that void, he said.
Regardless of whether business owners are members of the chamber of commerce, they are invited to contact Allan at the town office by calling 403-638-3551 to schedule a time for a roughly 15-minute interview.
“The Business Visitation and Triage program is looking for participation from at least 100 local businesses, regardless of their membership with the chamber,” said Monica St. Dennis, chamber president.
“We are very happy to support this program, since we know the results will benefit the entire community."
As of Thursday, July 22, Allan said nearly 40 interviews had been completed, and that he hoped to have all of them done by the end of August, with the program wrapping up this fall.
“Once the survey process is complete, the tabulation of responses and analysis of results will follow, with a final report being submitted by MDB Insight before the end of September,” Allan said.