LETHBRIDGE: Local business has weathered recent economic storms with flying colours - according to a new national ranking. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has named Lethbridge eighth on its list of the "Top 100 Entrepreneurial Cities" in Canada, released Tuesday.
"Many businesses in the global economy can work anywhere in the world that they want to, and we want them to choose Lethbridge," said Chamber of Commerce president Randy Tremel. "That's part of where we can come together and make Lethbridge a great place to live and work and raise a family."
Canadian cities were rated for the list according to three criteria - the actual level of entrepreneurial activity, expectations for the future and the amount of policy support offered by local governments. Gillian Nish, a long-time business owner and Lethbridge entrepreneur herself, says beyond those criteria, it's efforts from business owners themselves that make the difference now and will keep the city competitive going forward.
"Businesses cannot continue to operate in the same mode or frame of mind that we did in 2008, because since 2008 so many things have changed," said Nish. "We have to get more innovative, we have to learn to grow and expand and we have to listen to our customers - what's going on in their lives right now?"
Nish said consumers are being more careful with their money in slow economic times, which means business owners need to come up with ever more creative solutions. "Going back to "normal" and the same old, same old is just not going to cut it anymore with new technology and new business ideas that are coming forth," she said.
Tremel agreed, adding Lethbridge businesses have been changing with the times - and it's worked in their favour during slower economic cycles. "As it was quoted from Economic Development Lethbridge's Cheryl Dick, we just chose not to participate in the recession," he said. "Our businesses in Lethbridge are holding up very well to the current economic slow-down, and I believe they will successfully tackle this tough environment once again."
Tremel and Nish spoke at Tuesday's Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Awards, which recognized 10 local businesses for excellence. Included on the winners list were the Milne Pritchard Law Office, which won the 2011 Small Business of the Year Award and ActionCOACH Lethbridge, winner of the 2011 Young Entrepreneur Award.