In the face of lingering economic sluggishness, both nationally and provincially, coupled with the eventual completion of many economically stimulating downtown projects, we need to ask some basic questions about the health of Edmonton’s economy over the next few years. We also need to understand where we are vulnerable, what we control at the municipal level and what actions we can take to improve our economic situation in the coming years. Therefore, understanding how we stack up in terms of being an investment friendly city and how we compare to other competitor cities in terms of new business attraction would be useful analysis for us to undertake.
As a City, and as a region, we are in constant competition for business capital investment with other municipalities across the country and around the globe. Additionally, the landscape of capital investment has, and will continue to change. If we are truly to become one of the most economically competitive cities in world, we need to recognize, plan for and take a holistic approach to addressing the ever changing and dynamic landscape of capital investment. We need to be making concerted efforts, both regionally and locally, to strengthen our economic potential and future through managing our tremendous growth. We need to be creating a city where people can have an excellent quality of life. We need to ensure that business can grow and thrive in Edmonton.
So that is why I will make the following motion at our City Council meeting next week.
Can Administration, in consultation with relevant stakeholders including EEDC and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, prepare a report benchmarking Edmonton’s business climate competitiveness against other strategic and comparable global cities.
The analysis should include:
Historical data showing non- residential tax increases over the previous ten year period with a comparison to other large Canadian cities;
The non residential assessment methods used and how shifting assessment impacts business
An analysis on the effect of these cumulative tax increases on commercial lease rates including any other known effects
Comparison of business license fees, permit fees and wait times, user fees, utility costs, etc
Comparison of incentives for business attraction and retention and the effectiveness of these incentives.
Comparison of key areas of competition for our city: i.e. Health Innovation, Energy Services, Logistics, Industrial Land Sales, etc.
Comparison of investment in innovation and analysis of emerging factors important to attracting increasingly cautious global capital and business investment
Comparison of Human Capital (Talent) Competitiveness: Workforce Productivity and Global Fluency
Analysis of overall economic participation, job growth and income growth
We’re trying, but we can do more
As a City, we have made been taking the steps necessary to make it easier for businesses to operate and succeed in Edmonton. Our industrial land strategy, and current annexation application, play a major role in ensuring new land for business but it also will help up create a better balance between residential and commercial property tax. At a more micro level, the City of Edmonton has a number of programs in place to help make your businesses more competitive than they already are, such as our Business Revitalization Zones, Corner Stores Program, Development Incentive Program and the Facade Improvement Program. Taken together, these program facilitate partnerships and relationships among local businesses and communities and help make businesses more competitive than they already are.
And we continue to invest in the necessary infrastructure and amenities that help create vibrant neighbourhoods that will be home to an increasingly educated and skilled workforce.
Dynamic Capital and Economic Policy
A great report which describes dynamic capital well and that I'll write more about in the future, is the, Cities of the Future, where Price Waterhouse Cooper outlines important categories of capital that are critical to the success of any major city in a urbanized and globalized world.