2012 Best Communities for Business in Western Canada

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Estevan name pic

Median household income
Average lease rate per square foot (office)
Cost of Serviced Industrial Land
Effective business property tax rate

Best Community for Business in Saskatchewan

You know business is going to boom when a $1.2-billion project is being built within punting distance of a small town's downtown. And when you add in everything else that Estevan has going for it, well, look out.

This town of 12,978 in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan bills itself both as the sunshine and the energy capital of Saskatchewan. Others might vie for the former title, but the latter belongs to Estevan.

Sherritt International's two coal mines in the area feed two SaskPower generating stations that deliver nearly half of the province's baseload power. Together, those four facilities provide 800 long-term, stable jobs. Estevanis also the primary service centre for the burgeoning Bakken oilfield, which has takenoff with the rise of horizontal drilling and fracking. There are more than 7,000 oil wells within 160 kilometres of Estevan, most of which are serviced by companies based in town.

The town is also the primary service centre for regional agriculture, and this diversity ensures Estevan's economy is able to provide a solid platform for business. "We have the market and the stability of the economy for success in whatever venture [a business person wants to] get into," says Dennis Bode, the former owner of the town's GM dealership and now a real estate agent and president of the chamber of commerce. "We've never seen all of the sectors go down at the same time."

Topping it all off is the $1.2-billion Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration Project, one of the most advanced large-scale carbon capture plans in the world. It is transforming one of the coal-fired power-generating units at the Boundary Dam Power Station to capture CO2, promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one million tonnes per year. The CO2 will then be sold to oil producers who will pump it underground to enhance oil extraction. In addition to that project, a similar project at the Shand Power Station, as well as the town's Saskatchewan Energy Training Institute will ensure the region remains at the forefront of carbon capture technology for many years.

All of this has led to a young community with a high average rate of disposable income and a business climate that can best be described as sunny with intermittent sunny periods.

Population 12,978
Population growth, 2001–2010 (%) 26.7
Average lease rate, Office ($/square foot) n/a
Cost of serviced industrial land ($/acre) $175,000
Household income ($) 62,630
Average home price ($)
Effective property tax for business (mill rate) 1.84
Wait time for development permits (days) 15
Largest employer
(with number of employees)
SaskPower (435)
Major projects under construction
(with budget if available)
Clean Coal Carbon Capture/Sequestration - $1.2 billion
Unemployment Rate 2.7
Average Age
Percentage of the people over 65 15.5

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June 2012 Contents