Economic Development session paves way for strategic plan

Local business owners gathered at the cultural centre Nov. 5 for a strategic planning session on Economic Development. -S. Dafoe Photo

by Colin Smith

What are Morinville’s three most important strengths from an economic development perspective?

That question was posed to local business people who attended a recent session devoted to development of a strategic action plan for the town’s economy.

The meeting was held Nov. 5 at the Morinville Cultural Cultural Centre and organized by the Economic Development office of Town of Morinville Planning and Development department.

“I was very pleased with the number of business leaders that made the time to contribute to the Town’s economic development strategic action plan,” said Schaun Goodeve, Morinville economic development coordinator.

Businesses were invited to the session as part of a working group to create the plan and asked their thoughts on the economic development strengths, weaknesses and threats affecting them.

To provide context, those attending were shown a number of slides, including one showing land use development in Morinville from 1999 to 2013 and the population growth of the community from its beginning to the 2014 population of 9,402.

Regional municipal tax rates were also compared. With a rate of 6.59 per cent, Morinville has the lowest non-residential taxes, with the average at 11.28 per cent, but the community is above the average 5.75 per cent for rate for residential property taxes.

Facilitators were on hand to keep the session on track.

“Through a facilitated discussion, we analyzed our strengths, opportunities, challenges and what we can act on now,” Goodeve said. “We also discussed who our potential target market is and what Morinville’s value proposition is.”

The next steps are to collate the responses from the evening and launch the same questions in an online survey format. The online survey will seek responses from both residents and other businesses.

“All of this information that we are gathering will inform the Economic Development Strategic Action Plan that we anticipate to be completed early 2015. The Strategic Action Plan will guide initiatives that attract and expand our local business community.”

Goodeve said there was a strong social media presence both promoting and during the event itself and he foresees increasing use of this medium to communicate with the community in the future.

He added, “One business that participated last night commented on our input form ‘I am impressed with what I am hearing and seeing out of this Economic Development Working Group’.”

The Economic Development office was established within the Planning and Development department in the fall of 2013 after completion of planning and development documents articulating a long-term vision for the community.

The role of the office is to support and grow Morinville’s existing business community, along with attracting and recruiting new businesses.

The town business community includes more than 440 firms in sectors including manufacturing, light industrial, commercial and retail. One third of those are home-based businesses.

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