MLA for Lesser Slave Lake
Whether I’m grabbing a decaf coffee at The Fix in Slave Lake on the way to an event, taking in a blockbuster with my kids at Park Theatre in High Prairie, or enjoying a meal at Wabasca Steak and Pizza, I’m grateful for the role small businesses play in making our communities exciting places to live.
It’s always a pleasure to meet with local entrepreneurs, small business owners and those organizations that support them to learn about the terrific work they are doing in our community.
There’s no doubt it’s been a tough couple of years for communities across this province, and those in Lesser Slave Lake are no exception. When the price of oil dropped in 2014, it had a big impact on our economy, and a lot of businesses had to make tough decisions.
Fortunately, the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners in communities like Slave Lake, High Prairie and Wabasca has stayed strong.
And our government has supported those small businesses. We cut small business tax by a third right after we were elected.
Instead of making cuts that would have made things worse, we invested in building roads, schools and hospitals, to keep people working during the downturn. And we created two new tax credits to encourage investment in Alberta-based businesses.
These initiatives, and others, have helped small businesses to weather the storm. And by all appearances, the storm is indeed ending. Things are looking up.
We’re doubling down on our support for small businesses. Last Tuesday, Premier Notley announced MLA Jessica Littlewood would take on a new role, representing small business. I know she will help make sure entrepreneurs and small business owners voices are heard loud and clear.
Our plan is working. Job opportunities are growing. Housing starts are up. Last year private-sector investment was 2.5 times higher than the Canadian average. And we’re on track to lead the country again this year, by a wide margin.
People are investing long-term, and they’re spending in the short term as well. Retail sales in Alberta were at $6.8 billion in July, which is higher than the pre-recession peak of $6.7 billion in October 2014.
Elsewhere in the world, people are spending more on Alberta’s products as well. This province’s manufacturers sold $41 billion worth of goods in the first seven months of 2017, which is 15 per cent higher than the same period in 2016 and well ahead of the national growth rate of 6.6 per cent.
There’s still work to do, but Alberta’s economy is growing faster than expected. In fact, Alberta is expected to lead the country in economic growth over the next two years.
It was an absolute honour last week to share some of this good news with entrepreneurs at the Small Business Awards in High Prairie and the October Slave Lake Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Thanks to both of the chambers for your hard work supporting small businesses in our communities.
Small businesses are vital to the economic development and sustainability of northern and rural communities. I’m so thankful for the dedication of entrepreneurs here in Lesser Slave Lake for making our communities vibrant and dynamic. Let’s all work together.