June 14th, 2024

Brighter Together survey shows positive trends


By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 25, 2023.

The results from the 4th annual Lethbridge Brighter Together survey are in, showing an overall positive feedback for the growth and sustainability of local businesses.

Economic Development Lethbridge, Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ have concluded their annual survey, asking local businesses to provide feedback on the health of their operation.

Sixty-nine per cent of responses are positive for the health of their business over the next six to 12 months, with six out of ten businesses witnessing moderate or substantial growth over the previous twelve months.

“I am very pleased with the initial results,” said Trevor Lewington, CEO for Economic Development Lethbridge. “Lethbridge businesses are far more optimistic than business in other parts of the country. Six out of ten expect their business to do better this year. They are expecting growth, expecting to hire new people. The majority are looking for positive growth.”

Though the results are in the positive, it is important to review the data for growth and learning on how to improve.

“Conversely there are the top three challenges that were identified for doing business here. One was utilities cost, which I don’t think that will shock anyone given how both electricity and natural gas have increased. The second was the municipal tax environment, given that the city adopted a 5.1 per cent property increase for each of the next four years. Then the third one, which is almost always on the survey, workforce. We have among the lowest unemployment rates in Western Canada. The ability for businesses to both attract and retain talent is going to be a key challenge moving forward,” said Lewington.

With continual feedback year-over-year, the survey is able to be viewed as a tool for tracking improvements and seeing recurring concerns.

“Quality of life perpetually is at the top of the list year-after-year. People that live in Lethbridge love it, the longer you are here the more you like it,” said Lewington. “New this year we added some questions about the downtown specifically. We haven’t focused on that before, but we brought in the BRZ as a partner. One that stands out very strongly is, people are very pleased with the administration of the Clean Sweep program. The work the Clean Sweep does to make downtown look great, but also provide employment opportunities for those that are underemployed. The two concerns that popped out of the survey, one is that feeling of safety, which the city continues to address, but also the pace of residential development. That’s an interesting one, there’s concern from the downtown business community about not enough residents living in the downtown.”

Results from the survey will help business-oriented groups advocate for the success of local entrepreneurs, with data showing a positive incline and areas to improve upon.

“It helps us as an organization understand what we should be working on. When businesses say workforce is a key concern, our job is to dig deeper and see what it is we can do to support businesses. Whether it’s recruiting, or bringing more immigrants to town, or working with the government on permitting processes. The survey is useful for us to decide how we can best support business, because that’s my job: to help the business community,” said Lewington.

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