Hard economic times call for a strong strategic plan for recovery. The Town of Canmore's Economic Recovery Plan focuses on business retention and survival during and post-pandemic to help our local economy bounce back with resilience.
Business Recovery Task Force
Develop a Business Recovery Task Force to address and respond to business needs. The task force would include diverse members of our business community, Town Council, and the CBA. It would look for grant opportunities and funding partners to support the Economic Recovery Plan recommendations. The mandate of the task force would also be to develop recommendations to support the return to work of Canmore’s workforce; to support business operations in the recovery efforts and future growth, and to identify opportunities to propel our community beyond the recovery stage.
Councillor McCallum and Mayor Borrowman will sit on the task force as the Council representatives.
Economic Development Webinar Series
Economic Development has partnered with local and regional industry experts to facilitate a weekly webinar series that addresses concerns derived from the Business Needs Survey and direct conversations with business owners. As part of the Economic Recovery Plan, $10,000 from tax stabilization will make the continuation of this series possible to include topics relevant to supporting the re-opening of Canmore’s businesses.
Labour Force Retention, Attraction, and Development
To support our business community, we will develop a comprehensive strategy to address the various challenges associated with recruitment, retention, and development of the workforce. Components of this include but are not limited to: a job resource board, skill development, hiring fairs, and a Workforce Retention Expansion Program.
Business Support Hub
Ensure staff are available and trained to address business calls inquiring about programming, supports, and processes. This could involve creating a centralized direct phone number for businesses to call should they need assistance and information. Business Support Hub supports will be enhanced to include:
•Business Tools: Economic Development would work with industry experts to develop a set of tools to support business continuity planning, such as developing a re-open plan with templates for scheduling, re-hire agreements, stock, or staffing needs overview, marketing and planning tools, etc.
• Financial Aid: Directing businesses to financial aid provided by the various levels of governments and private sectors
• Employee Supports: Access to social support services such as how to find housing
• Supports for the Self-Employed: Directing self-employed individuals to applicable resources.
Re-opening Working Group
We are working with internal and external stakeholders to develop a robust re-open plan for Canmore following provincial guidelines as they become available. The planning process has been broken down into five elements:
1. Business physical distancing and safety requirements
2. Communication to community on physical distancing to residents
3. Town Planning: How do we accommodate physical distancing and visitors/community sentiment in the various reopening stages?
4. Traveler communication on community expectations, best practices, etc.
5. Marketing to boost the economy when all industries are allowed to re-open
SMARTstart Entrepreneurial Program
To ensure we set up our new entrepreneurs for success, we are launching SMARTstart to recruit both students and mentors for a fall program start as originally planned and part of the current approved Economic Development Department budget. The additional funding will support a program-fee refund program for participants who complete the program.
SMARTstart is an entrepreneurial training program with three components: online learning, in-person seminars, and mentorship. Over eight months, 15-20 entrepreneurs would undergo 50-60 hours of online training, workshops, and mentorship meetings. The program objective is for participants to take away a completed business plan, strategic plan, or feasibility study, as well as strong network connections.
Applications Open: June 8 – July 19, 2020
Virtual Information Session: June 16 (7 - 8 p.m.)
Click here for details
Canmore Business to Business Voucher Program
This plan will help small businesses maintain cash flow. Promoting businesses-to-business support fosters a duplicator effect and doubles the Town’s investment into its business community. The voucher program will provide eligible businesses with additional coaching and/or technical training or services.
Patio Rebate Program
As close Main Street to vehicles to promote physical distancing and encourage business owners to expand onto the sidewalk to safely accommodate customers, we will provide rebates to those business owners in the affected areas who have already paid for a patio permit for this season. On June 2, 2020, Council approved a motion to use funds from the Economic Recovery Plan to issue rebates to those who have already paid 2020 patio fees and waive any additional patio permit and license fees for this year.
Canmore Business Re-Start Fund Program
Since much of our small business community will not have generated any, or little income during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will provide seed funding to a start-up fund grant program. Funds contributed to this program would be used to support Canmore-based businesses. Some of the costs that would be eligible for coverage under this program are inventory, staffing, pre-open deep-clean of the business’s physical location, or commercial space re-design to accommodate physical distancing.
Neighbourhood Art Project Grant
Will will allocate $38,000 to a COVID-19 neighbourhood building art project in 2020. This would fund 10 artist-led neighbourhood projects that aim to build social cohesion; to celebrate neighbourhood pride and camaraderie and to break-down barriers between neighbours. These projects would have long-lasting effects and support the Know Your Neighbour initiatives currently implemented by the Community Social Development Department.
Community Event Relief Fund
Annually the Town of Canmore runs an Event Grant as well as a Community Grant program. These programs are being cancelled in 2020 as part of the budget savings adjustment. As a replacement, Economic Development, Recreation, and Community Social Development will collaborate to offer relief for events impacted by the pandemic.
We have been mobilizing essential tools to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on our business community, the needs of business owners, and to provide supports in these difficult times. To address immediate business needs the following strategies have been implemented:
COVID-19 Business E-Updates
A regular e-newsletter is sent to over 1,350 registered businesses in Canmore. The message is amplified through other business advocacy agencies such as the Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA), Bow Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Bow Valley Builders & Developers Association (BOWDA), Tourism Canmore Kananaskis (TCK), and the Canmore Hospitality and Lodging Association (CHLA) to ensure an expansive reach.
COVID-19 Economic Response Webinar Series
Economic Development has partnered with local and regional industry experts to facilitate a weekly webinar series that addresses concerns derived from the Business Needs Survey and direct conversations with business owners.
Business Needs Survey: March 20-27, 2020
The Town of Canmore’s Economic Development Department initiated a Business Needs Survey on March 20, 2020, to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on our business community and to identify immediate needs. This survey was sent to the 1,352 businesses registered with the Town of Canmore. Of these businesses, 493 responded. The survey was also distributed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown BIA and BOWDA to ensure we captured those who do not require a Town business license, such as engineers, architects, and medical offices. This information has contributed to the development of the Town’s Economic Response Plan and allowed us to advocate to other levels of government on behalf of the needs of our business community.
Post-Survey Business Follow-Up
Over 300 businesses asked for a call from our Economic Development Team in their response to the Business Needs Survey. Through re-deployment of staff, we have been able to make those follow-up calls with the objective of:
1. Responding to business needs identified in the survey by connecting owners to available resources and programs
2. Track resolution and accelerated challenges
Canmore Business Alliance (CBA) Updates
The Canmore Business Alliance is made up out of members from various business support agencies such as BOWDA, TCK, CHLA, BIA, BVCC, and Economic Development. Through the local state of emergency and provincial public health emergency, we moved to weekly Zoom meetings to discuss issues, look for solutions, ensure strong ongoing partnerships, and to streamline communication. The CBA has been a pivotal partner in the development of the Town of Canmore’s Economic Recovery Plan and will continue that role in the implementation of the recommendations.
How has Town of Canmore supported businesses through the pandemic?
We have been mobilizing essential tools to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on our business community, the needs of business owners, and to provide supports in these difficult times. To address immediate business needs the following strategies have been implemented: a business webinar series, an online business support hub, a business needs survey, and Canmore Business Alliance Updates, and a regular business newsletter.
Has Council approved the Economic Recovery Plan?
Yes. On June 2, Council approved capital funding from the Tax Stabilization Reserve for Economic Development recovery support to those businesses most impacted by the pandemic for a total of $281,000 and moved to establish a Business Recovery Taskforce that includes members of our business community, Town Council, and the Canmore Business Association (CBA) and appoints one or two members of Council to the Taskforce.
Why is Economic Development requesting additional funding, while Town of Canmore is looking to reduce expenses?
On April 21, 2020, Council directed administration to prepare amendments to the 2020 Operating Budget to address the medium impact pandemic scenario, as defined below, for consideration by Council as soon as reasonably possible, and that the amendments achieve the following outcomes:
(1) Maintain essential services and business continuity, (2) Provide departmental expenditure reductions to help mitigate losses in revenue, (3) Allow for scalability of operations post-pandemic, (4) Provide increased social and economic development supports for those individuals and businesses most impacted by the pandemic, and (5) Provide options to reduce the municipal 2020 tax requirement to the same level as 2019.
The Economic Recovery Plan is a direct result of this directive from Council to providing increased economic supports to those most impacts by the pandemic.