2012 Best Communities for Business in Western Canada
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Best Small Community for Business
Strathmore has a population of just over 12,000, but it might not stay small for much longer. Western Canada's best small community for business is getting a lot of attention from outside investors and businesses alike. And why wouldn't it? Strathmore has one of the lowest business property tax rates in the province, plus industrial land available for $180,000 per acre.
No less an expert than W. Brett Wilson thinks Strathmore represents a good investment – his Prairie Merchant Corp. is spending millions developing 160 acres of the town's residential land. But the community isn't waiting around for angel investors to make the necessary investments in its future. The town itself is investing in infrastructure that will allow it grow to almost five times its current population. It spent $9 million recently to build a potable underground water reservoir. It has also built a new wastewater treatment plant and a regional water line from Calgary, which is about 50 kilometres west along the Trans-Canada Highway.
These sorts of public investments were a big draw for Rencor Developments, a shopping centre developer that recently moved into the region. Company president Ron Renaud says the town is a great place to do business and credits Strathmore's administration with encouraging development. "The best example is the approval process," Renaud says. "The entitlement process is streamlined, they're very accommodating and work with you, and the costs are reasonable. Timing is critical in our business, and the faster you can get things done, the better."
Dwight Stanford, Strathmore's chief administration officer, says the town prides itself on being business-friendly. That's why it puts a 10-day maximum wait time on development permits, which rose 47 per cent in total value last year. "Businesses always want to know about [water infrastructure] and what land is available," Stanford says. And Strathmore has made a lot of land available. It designated 583 acres of town land for industrial use, selling the first portion to a developer in March.
Strathmore's business-friendly approach is equally evident to the town's small business owners, who listed the town's "opportunities and attitudes" as one of its strengths in a recent government survey, beating the average for similar communities by six per cent. That impressed Renaud, who sees a bright future for the community and the businesses that set up shop there. It's a very pro-business community, he says. We hope to be here for a long time.
|Population growth, 2001–2010 (%)||67|
|Average lease rate, Office ($/square foot)||15|
|Cost of serviced industrial land ($/acre)||$180,000|
|Household income ($)||60,830|
|Average home price ($)|
|Effective property tax for business (mill rate)||0.63|
|Wait time for development permits (days)||10|
(with number of employees)
|Golden Hills School Division (1,200)|
|Major projects under construction
(with budget if available)
|Percentage of the people over 65||12|
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