The top red flag in a local business retention and expansion survey is community safety.
That’s according to a staff report tied into a larger presentation on growth to a special committee meeting of council Tuesday night.
Erin Richmond, Manager, Economic Development, says while their recommendations don’t focus on that red flag, the Community Safety and Well-Being plan approved by council last summer does.
“The addictions issue, the homeless issue, the safety issues that we’re experiencing here in North Bay, although they’re not unique to North Bay they are prevalent enough for our business community to mention them quite a bit during the survey,” she says. “What we wanted to do was recognize that. We’ve heard the business community.”
250 businesses took part in the survey with 248 red flags raised.
Community safety was mentioned 115 times.
As for areas that the report does focus on, Richmond says they have three key priorities.
“There are some challenges around workforce, and so that’s an area we need to focus on,” she says. “We heard about access to capital and opportunities to grow business and we also heard about communication and the opportunity to have more ongoing dialogue with the business community and keep them up to date.”
Six recommendations centre around those key priorities with timelines varying from 12 to 24 months.
The survey also says quality of life is the top advantage to conducting business in North Bay.
Second is being centrally located and proximity to markets with available transportation third.
Disadvantages include hiring challenges and attraction of qualified and skilled employees, community safety concerns followed by high municipal taxes.
Other survey results of note include:
- 68% of businesses rate North Bay as a good to excellent place to do business.
– Almost half of business respondents (46%) plan to expand operations within the next two years.
- Retirement is listed as the top reason for selling, with succession plans in place for 75% of business owners.
The full report can be found on the Economic Development page of the city’s website.