The news from Town of Slave Lake economic development officer Leah Jones last week seemed pretty good.
“There is business interest in Slave Lake and region,” she told town council at its Feb. 9 meeting.
Jones was presenting the first of what are to be quarterly reports for council on the topic. This one included information under the headings ‘Reconnaissance, Readiness, Business Activity and Partnerships/Networking.’
On the reconnaissance front, Jones said the response to the town’s business survey had been very good, at 36 per cent. That’s way higher than the average for such things, she said, and it’s even more gratifying because it wasn’t a simple set of questions.
“We took a deep dive into the micro-economy of Slave Lake,” she said.
Another survey is coming right up – this one on transportation.
“The purpose is to understand the flow of goods,” Jones said.
Under the ‘readiness’ heading, Jones said work progresses on websites, investor materials, a tourism marketing plan and a revitalization project for the downtown area of Slave Lake.
Where ‘business activity’ is concerned, Jones told council the town issued 15 licences to new businesses in the fourth quarter of 2020 and 11 in January alone.
As for development permits, it was 14 in Q4 of 2020 and 15 in January 2021. Inquiries from businesses about doing business in Slave Lake were 14 in Q4 of last year and six in January.
At that news, councillor Brice Ferguson asked Jones if it’s a trend, or perhaps just an anomaly.
“It’s a snapshot,” she said, adding it was too little information to declare it a trend. “But it looks very positive.”
Finally, Jones said various partnerships are being investigated and networking options explored.
Commenting on the situation, mayor Tyler Warman said, “It’s nice to know things are happening. We’ve got meetings set up with some of these companies interested in our area.”
Warman said he couldn’t share details at the moment, “but I can say Slave Lake is not a bad place to do business.”