Sunday, December 3, 2023

Survey finds workforce, taxes biggest concerns for Lethbridge businessess

A new survey found more than half of businesses in Lethbridge who responded saw moderate or substantial growth in the last year. Economic Development Lethbridge, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Lethbridge Businesses Revitalization Zone (BRZ) completed their annual Brighter Together survey. 

The survey asked business owners for feedback on the health of their organization and 69 per cent said they were positive about the health of their business in the 6-12 months. It also found 6/10 businesses saw growth in the last year — in the 2021 survey, 54 per cent reported substantial or moderate growth.

The number of businesses who saw a moderate or substantial decline in business in 2022 compared to 2021 fell from 25 per cent to 15 per cent. The biggest reported challenges doing business in the city remained the same from 2021 — utilities costs, municipal tax environment and workforce availability. The survey noted an increased focus on the impact of taxes.

“One of the overall themes from this edition of the survey revolves around workforce. Finding employees, retaining employees, upgrading skills for existing employees and controlling labour costs are a concern right now for businesses in our area,” said Trevor Lewington, CEO of Economic Development Lethbridge. “With the unemployment rate in the Lethbridge CMA remaining low and the increasing need for qualified workers in our area, attracting people to our region is important and something EDL continues to keep top of mind through the work we’re doing.”

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The biggest strength reported for business in lethbridge was the quality of life offered, collaborative environment and proximity to complementary industries. 

The survey included a question for businesses in the downtown about downtown programs. It found businesses were happy with the Clean Sweep program and events in Festival Square, but were concerned about safety and the pace of residential development in the downtown area.

“The Brighter Together survey is a great tool for our organization to better understand what’s happening with businesses in Lethbridge,” says Cyndi Bester, CEO, Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce. “By asking similar questions each year, we can track where improvements are being made but also any recurring concerns we see year after year. By tracking these trends it helps organizations like ours and others refine the work that needs to be done to help businesses succeed in our city.”

RELATED: Economic Development Lethbridge optimistic about 2023

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