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.
I took the time to skip through the report. Well prepared with some excellent ideas. Thank you.
Among the trends, the report mentions the cost of energy (gas prices). I guess with the new carbon tax, we can expect that this trend will continue to increase!
This report mentions the need for hotels, although we have several B&Bs and two motels, I believe. Maybe there is a need for accommodations in specific times of the year (major concert/event, MTA open houses) more so than during low seasons? Anyhow, to encourage the hotel industry, in my humble opinion, the hotel tax that the town wants to introduce can be counter-productive (as per an earlier article of the New Wark Times). Is it a good idea if we want to foster the development of the hotel industry? What about the consumers (our relatives, colleagues, or tourists) who will be paying more for their hotel rooms and gas? Is this a good economic strategy?
Now, for fun, I searched for *hot* terms in the report such as “climate change”. I did not find any, unless I missed them. I rather found a recommendation for “green businesses”. For fun as well, I searched for buzz social terms like *racialized* or *marginalized* when mentioning an increasing number of Mount A students of “different ethnic backgrounds”. I was happy not to see this. To me, the report looks not only professional because of that but also of high quality. For having chatted with other “ethnic” folks in our town and beyond, there is a feeling of being sick and tired of new buzz words to describe us (usually as victims of something). I am afraid such language can be a turn off for potential investors or new comers, despite the noble intentions (at least it would have been to me). I say this because I/we prefer a positive and truly inclusive language because we simply see ourselves as New Brunswickers and/or Canadians (with pride!). We are all Sackville residents happy to be living in such a charming environment.
Finally, on page 26 of the report (if I am not mistaken), there is a picture of what I have sarcastically called in the past “the Great wall of China”. Of course, I mean the “Sackville Arts Wall” (with its cost of $41K!). I hope that this beautiful picture will act as a reminder of our municipality’s tendency to overspend. We can perhaps try a different approach? Related to this, it is my hope that the recommendation of welcoming or fostering “green” “progressive” businesses will not be used by our town as a *moral* excuse to justify unnecessary overspending of some sort under a green umbrella (who can’t be against this 😊)?