Cranbrook – A Welcoming Community
I was thinking about the word “Welcoming” the other day. To welcome someone means “to greet their arrival with pleasure or kindly courtesy.” So how do we do that as a community? Due to space limitations I’ll break it down into two parts, Welcoming Business, which I’ll talk about today, and Welcoming People, which I’ll cover in December.
One of the comments I hear from time to time is that Cranbrook is not a welcoming place for business. When I ask “Why do you say that?” there is either no response or “I heard a rumour that Business X wanted to locate here Y years ago and the city turned them away.” While I find it hard to believe that any Mayor or Council would turn business away, I want to share with you what we are doing today to welcome business to Cranbrook. We are:
· working to get industry into our new airport industrial lands, focussing on aviation based opportunities.
· encouraging business from our Asia Pacific Friendly City partners in China and South Korea to come to the East Kootenay to understand what great resources we have. A recent visit from a major Import Export Company from Taicang is hopefully just the start.
· interested in having Cranbrook recognized as one of five new Business Technology Centres Premier Clark announced will be set up by the Province.
· looking for new industrial land opportunities in Cranbrook. As some of you know our current industrial area is full and I know of at least one business looking to expand.
· seeking to revitalize downtown through our bylaw which offers a five year 100% city property tax exemption on new buildings and renovations in our downtown core.
· keeping our Development Cost Charges and our Building Permit Fees low compared to most other cities in British Columbia to encourage construction. Of the 115 communities that charge DCC’s Cranbrook ranks 13th lowest in BC for single family residential and industrial fees. Communities that have lower fees are generally those who have a large industrial base to tax like a major mine (I have thought about trying to annex one of the Elk Valley Coal mines!!).
· responding to the Barriers to Business Report, that I asked the Chamber to prepare, by:
o joining “BizPal”, an on-line platform used throughout BC and across Canada to help entrepreneurs determine quickly what permits/licenses they require to develop or expand their business.
o completing a new community profile in partnership with the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute. This gives prospective businesses insight into what we have to offer them.
o creating a new “Doing Business in Cranbrook” guide. In addition the “Guidebook to Relocating to Cranbrook, British Columbia” and the “Guidebook to Investing in Cranbrook, British Columbia” are being updated.
o reviewing and updating our Economic Development Strategy. The Economic Development Committee will be hosting a series of focus groups this fall/winter to help set strategic priorities for Cranbrook for the next five years.
o working to improve the development and permitting process with new cleaner and clearer forms to be introduced when the new Building Bylaw is approved by Council.
o introducing a new checklist for every permit, which defines what is required to move the project forward. The checklist will be reviewed and signed off by the City representatives and the proponent. The bottom line is to make sure there are no surprises.
· pursuing the concept of Cranbrook becoming a small inland container port to better utilize our railway and highway transportation systems and encourage imports and exports into Cranbrook. This builds on the current economic development strategy to develop Cranbrook as a multi-modal hub for the region.
· organizing a workshop with Economic Practitioners to lay out a clear process for those wanting to set up a new business in Cranbrook, including who can help them along the way.
· personally visiting new businesses when they open their doors in Cranbrook. If you are a new business and I’ve missed you please call and let me know. I’d like to meet you and say thanks for believing in Cranbrook!
There is a lot going on to make Cranbrook a welcoming place for business. If you have additional ideas I’d love to hear from you!!
Mayor Wayne Stetski