Our small businesses will drive growth in Ponoka

Every week should be Small Business Week. The growth of Ponoka’s economy doesn’t just happen — it’s driven by small businesses

Every week should be Small Business Week.

The growth of Ponoka’s economy doesn’t just happen — it’s driven by small businesses and their patrons who have an incredible influence on success. From restaurants to car washes and your hometown newspaper, small businesses have a huge economic impact on our communities.

Today is certainly a period of opportunity and crisis for small businesses in Alberta. It takes a lot of courage to be in business.

Economies are growing and creating huge emerging markets. Businesses are setting their sights on the enormous potential of these expanding new economies. To survive and thrive, our small town entrepreneurs need to be part of this movement by taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities arising in a world without boundaries. Even as some small businesses are laying off workers, there are still lots of job openings to take up the slack.

Certainly the entrepreneurial spirit of these business owners is inspiring: they have an idea, a business plan and the drive to see their dream come true. With their ideas they are making our communities better places to live and work. They make our communities stand out from the cookie cutter power centres that assault the scenery on your trips to the Big City.

Shopping locally recycles your paycheque through the community. Local small businesses use local suppliers, pay rent to local landlords, advertise in community newspapers, and open accounts in our banks and credit unions to pay their bills and employees.

A vibrant downtown must be a central part of planning Ponoka’s economic future. Ponoka’s planners, facing a new set of growth challenges, must be reminded that there are a number of economic, social and environmental benefits to strengthening local businesses. We are facing the challenge of preserving historic small town values without stifling economic growth. We need to retain our communities’ character and values while at the same time providing and nurturing new economic opportunities.

A dozen small businesses, offering a multitude of product and service choices, will do more for the community and competitive pricing than a couple of big box stores giving us the same product at “bargain” prices.

We need prosperous small businesses in our local economies. Without them, we lose our power to influence the decisions that affect our community.

On a personal note: Congratulations to my old drinking and fishing buddy, Randy Bertrand, recently retired as the Town of Devon’s manager of economic development.

The Alberta Tourism Awards Committee has given him the 2012 Alto Ambassador Award for his outstanding contributions to Alberta’s tourism industry. Randy was an inspiration to many of us on the economic development board and chamber of commerce in Devon. He is known throughout Alberta as a leader and true ambassador of tourism. His vision and dedication has contributed to tourism becoming the largest economic driver in Devon, which now welcomes more than 750,000 visitors annually.

His successes are proof this economic development mumbo jumbo actually works.

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