New Council Speaks to Challenges Faced by Local Businesses

Monday, December 1, Owen Sound’s new council was sworn into office, beginning their 2014-2018 term

The Grey Bruce Business Journal asked the new council,

‘What do you see has been the largest challenge over the last 10 years, faced by business operators in your region?’

We are awaiting responses from Councillor Peter Lemon.

 

Mayor-elect Ian Boddy

Mayor Ian Boddy

‘Over the past 10 years, we have had limited growth which has reduced disposable income being spent in our local market. In addition, tax increases exceeded flat growth rates. Many of our manufacturing jobs were replaced by mechanization within the plants, and then lost altogether when industry left Canada. This has resulted in lower wages and loss of job security for many workers remaining. That resulted in lower disposable income available to spend in our community. As the economy has transitioned to the information age, we have lost a step to other cities in Ontario that recognized this change and were able to react faster.’ Mayor Ian Boddy

 

Arlene Wright

Deputy Mayor Arlene Wright

‘Major Issues facing business owners in Grey Bruce include low cost of living which results in low wages, therefor unable to hire qualified workers, Government paper work, Federal and Provincial taxes, and local business taxes.’
Deputy Mayor Arlene Wright

 

Travis Dodd - Owen Sound Council Candidate

Councillor Travis Dodd

‘The lack of adequate and affordable broadband, I feel is a major hurdle that business owners are expected to jump. As the world continues to grow technologically, we as a region need to stay competitive in this field to ensure we don’t miss out on or restrict new forms of development in our community whether through new businesses opportunities or through the expansion of our existing sectors.

There has also been a drastic change in the global economy, where we have witnessed the closure or reduction of the manufacturing sector in not only our community but around the country. This can also be portrayed through the notion of globalization and the increased use of technology to purchasing retails goods that have changed consumer habits.

Both of these situations I feel have caused issues for both the small and large scale businesses in our region.’ Councillor Travis Dodd

 

Councillor-elect Scott Greig

Councillor Scott Greig

‘Being a business owner myself I realize that there are many issues facing businesses in Grey Bruce. It is the global economy which we compete in whether the business is selling retail goods or manufacturing products.

It is the geographical location of our communities being outside higher serviced regions. Servicing encompasses high speed capacity and for our area, a real lack of high speed capacity. It also includes tangible servicing such as transportation availability and association with businesses within the same sectors. An example being the automotive industry utilizing plants close in physical location.

Another issue is excessive government bureaucracy. The excess is not so much at the local level rather often at provincial and federal levels. An example here is new provincial legislation on local trades. This is a tremendous amount of employment in our area now being forced into meeting new government policy. The end result is that rather than paying good wages to their employees, there is further reason to reduce employees, increase cash transactions or increase their prices.’ Councillor Scott Greig

 

Marion Koepke

Councillor Marion Koepke

‘Business owners in Grey Bruce need to recognize that Owen Sound, being the largest urban centre in the counties, can offer services that would enhance a region they can be proud of. Co-joined or shared services by municipalities needs to be investigated to lessen the burden on the taxpayer in general.’
Councillor Marion Koepke

 

Jim McManaman - Owen Sound City Council

Councillor Jim McManaman

‘For Owen Sound business to prosper, and keep tax increases to a minimum, we must grow the tax base. This means attracting more businesses and more individuals and families to locate here. Marketing, promotion and working together with the business community will help us grow. The relationship does not have to be adversarial…the business community and the City must start working together. When businesses are successful, the City is successful.’
Councillor Jim McManaman

 

Councillor-elect Brian O'Leary

Councillor Brian O’Leary

‘Obviously taxes are a major issue and we have to bring more business here to ease the strain.’
Councillor Brian O’Leary

 

Richard Thomas - Owen Sound Council Candidate

Councillor Richard Thomas

‘Through my media work I have gotten to know many business owners throughout Grey and Bruce Counties. I think there are a couple of issues that affect most: taxes and the lack of support from our local communities.

The only solution for the taxation issue is to elect creative thinkers who can find new ways to generate revenue to help offset taxation. This election will be an excellent opportunity to do that. Owen Sound, has significant excess sewer and water capacity. That can generate significant revenue for the city if we market that service to neighbours who may want it, and in turn offset the rising costs of those services to city homeowners.

The other issue that has a major impact is the soft community support for local businesses. People will drive to Orangeville to save a couple of hundred dollars on a car without thinking of the impact of that decision. Local car dealerships employ local people who shop at local stores and pay taxes in their local communities. Your support of those businesses supports the entire community, and it’s the same in every sector of our local economy.

Many years ago the Rotary Club sent me to Germany on an exchange trip. The most important lesson I learned was the secret of their strong economy: Germans buy German. Everybody spends as much of their money as possible in their local communities. The first key to rescuing our local economy is for all of us to support local business first. I will work with my fellow councilors to address the municipal purchasing policy, to ensure local businesses are supported.’ Councillor Richard Thomas

 

The Grey Bruce Business Journal also asked,
‘First of all, tell us a little about your background and overall platform.’

What strategies do you have in mind to stimulate economic growth in the region?’

‘Do you think local business taxes are at a fair rate, or should be lowered or raised? Should there be any changes in the municipal services provided to businesses, (such as garbage removal)?’

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