Raymond was founded by entrepreneurs. The first building in town was a blacksmith shop. The first by-law on the books was a business licensing by-law. It was that entrepreneurial spirit that set Raymond apart from neighbouring communities and helped it boom to 1500 people in just a few short years. Though we still have many great businesses and there are some very exciting new businesses in town, residential growth has far outpaced industrial or commercial growth. The last numbers I saw said that over 95% of our tax base is residential. We need to grow our business tax base. As someone who used to own and operate a business in Raymond, I understand some of the unique challenges that business owners face here. Fostering businesses that create employment opportunities locally means more money will be spent in the local economy (at restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, etc.). This is good for everyone, including established businesses. Here are some things we could do to expand our business base:
- Target: Focus efforts on attracting industries and companies that work well within the constraints of being located in Raymond and target them for relocation or new business opportunities (ones that don’t need major transportation routes or a large population base), ie. information technology, call centres, small-scale local manufacturing, web-based, government, not-for-profits, etc.
- Use new resources: Leverage our new economic development position to help grow our new and existing businesses through coaching, affordable access to meeting space, events, etc.
- Shop local: Create and/or support shop local initiatives
- Welcome wagon: Work with community groups and businesses to create a welcome wagon program that introduces local businesses to people new to town.
- Fibre: Leverage our new fibre network to attract information-based business while it still remains a competitive advantage over other similarly sized municipalities. This is a declining opportunity as other communities gain fibre.
- Build on our identity: Identify industries and companies that connect to Raymond’s unique culture and history and target them for relocation or expansion here (family oriented, sports excellence, stampede, sugar industry, religious, etc.)
- Come home: Reach out to the sons and daughters of Raymond who have established businesses elsewhere and work to create opportunities for them to come home and/or relocated/grow their businesses here.
- Incentives: Explore tax incentives or below market pricing on publicly owned commercial/industrial land to make Raymond an attractive place to establish or grow a business.
- Incubate: Establish a business incubator to grow startup businesses or home-based businesses into employers and bricks-and-mortar businesses