Sackville Town Council has received a consultants’ report that contains a wide range of recommendations for attracting and retaining businesses including everything from setting up a “green” industrial park at the Walker Road TransCanada highway exit to establishing a high-powered Mayor’s Roundtable Committee.
The 33-page report outlining a business development strategy for Sackville was written by Lions Gate Consulting of Vancouver in association with 4/L Strategies Consulting of Milford, Nova Scotia. Council hired the consultants last summer at a cost of $17,250.
Tyler Mattheis of 4/L Strategies was on hand Monday to brief the mayor and councillors on the final recommendations.
“We believe that this is a do-able plan,” Mattheis said, adding that while he doesn’t expect all of the recommendations in the new strategy to be implemented, it can act as a guide.
“You look at it, you pick the things that work best,” he said, “and you adjust as you go forward.”
Mattheis reminded council that before coming up with their recommendations, the consultants talked to a wide range of people including town staff, local residents and entrepreneurs, representatives from Mount Allison University as well as officials at Opportunities New Brunswick and other public agencies.
The consultants also conducted a business survey that received 40 responses and held what they called a “World Café” with a dozen members of the public last October.
Mattheis explained the first recommendation — that the town adopt what he called a “value proposition” to guide business development.
“We tend to see it as an elevator pitch,” he said. “We see it as a thing that’s useful to coalesce your efforts around,” he added, as he showed a slide with a value proposition drafted by the consultants.
Mattheis explained that such a value proposition can be useful for marketing purposes.
“Your target audience here is the person who’s interested in investing or moving to this community, but also your business person or industry that’s already here.”
The consultants recommend the establishment of a Mayor’s Roundtable Committee on Economic Development to co-ordinate efforts at attracting and retaining businesses. The Committee would include a variety of “stakeholders” and would ensure, for example, that “new entrepreneurs or contacts are directed to a single point for the best startup support.”
The Committee would also draft an annual workplan, monitor and measure results, oversee business “incubator” support and “support the establishment of a new student business accelerator program in collaboration with MTA and in alignment with MTA’s experiential learning initiative.”
The consultants also recommend that the town develop an inventory of land and buildings suitable for new businesses and focus on development at highway exits including the one at Walker Road:
“It is recommended that efforts continue to establish a working relationship with the landowners of industrial land near Exit 500 and that any opportunities in this area be included in the future Land and Building Inventory.”
Elsewhere the consultants call on the town to: “Consider development of an un-serviced and potentially “green” business park on Exit 500.”
Other recommendations include exploring the feasibility of investment in improved hotel and motel accommodations, drafting a prospectus for a boarding school that would serve international students, creating a “health-care or Senior-Focused Development prospectus to showcase Sackville as a desirable location,” re-establishing the Sackville Chamber of Commerce and developing partnerships with Opportunities New Brunswick, Mount Allison and First Nations.
To view a three-page table summarizing the many recommendations, click here.
No additional staff
During his presentation to council, Mattheis said the consultants are not recommending that the town hire more staff to implement the business development strategy.
“We’re crystal-balling here a little bit,” Mattheis said, “but looking at the levels of volunteers and stakeholders and staff, we think we’ve put forward a plan that works within these levels and is congruent with many communities of your size.”
Mayor Higham thanked Mattheis and his colleagues for their efforts, adding that he and councillors would study the recommendations and get back to the consultants if they have any questions.
To read the consultants’ report and supporting documents, click here.