Total community effort needed to attract, sustain new businesses

I was glad to see the town put effort into a survey that helps identify services that residents and tourists feel will benefit

Dear Editor,

I was glad to see the town put effort into a survey that helps identify services that residents and tourists feel will benefit the community. The challenge now, as always, is acting on the information gathered in a smart and progressive fashion.

A bakery was the top requested service — no doubt patrons are feeling the void left by the departure of Cobb’s. What role does government play in assisting a bakery come to town, if any. What role does each individual play in encouraging a bakery to come and stay? Who is responsible for the success — the owner, the town or the customers? I suggest each has a role to play.

For a business to be successful in a community, it needs to be attracted to that community by many of the same criteria a resident evaluates. Schools, recreation facilities, health care, services, clubs, affordability, everything down to where to buy milk comes into play. If the area does not have what the business owner is seeking, they may look elsewhere to set up.

Different levels of government have a role, in ensuring the drinking water is good quality, roads are in good repair, education, health care facilities, and policing meet the needs of the community. Governments also dictate taxation on land, services, or income. They have regulations on safety of the products being produced and sold, as well as rules on signage and parking. They assist in making the area welcoming and providing the environment for a business to have success.

Members of the community have a role. If they want a product or service, they need to support the business that provides it if they want to see it survive.

There is a perceived risk in trying something new. The example of a bakery — community residents may feel it is too big a risk to pay a couple of dollars for a dozen hot dog buns as it is an unknown and new product from a new provider.

The business owner is also at risk, often investing their entire life savings, remortgaging a house and borrowing from trusting family members or friends to try a new venture that may not bring in a pay cheque for the first few years. Business owners believe in their product or service and go all in to serve their customers. The community can support the business, just as the business supports the community.

The business owner has a role to play. The facility needs to be pleasing to the eye, inside and out, staff need to be knowledgeable, courteous, and professional. The goods or services sold need the right price for the quality, and done so in a timely fashion, making it a simple as possible for the customer. The owner may choose to work 18 hours a day until they can afford to bring in help.

The survey showed one of the primary reasons people chose to shop outside of Sylvan Lake was selection. True, a community of 13,000 will not have all the stores, services or products of a city whose population is near 100,000, but by looking around, it may surprise many what our community does have to offer. If we are going to attract the desired businesses as outlined in the survey, it needs to be total community effort. If a business does open, and we appreciate their goods or services, make it a priority to support them, and they will become a part of the same community that we call home.

Trevor Pratt,

Sylvan Lake