BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Local business representatives meet with Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, right, and members of city council at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce office during the chamber’s informal “Coffee Break” with the mayor on Friday.
Brandon needs to launch a lobby group to attract more industry and big business to the community, according to some local business leaders.
"We are losing out, not just on a city level, on a provincial level," said P.J. Crane, vice-president of Crane Steel Structures.
"We need to find out what incentives are driving them, whether it’s to Saskatchewan or the United States … We need to keep them right here in Manitoba."
Attracting industry to Brandon was one of the major topics of discussion at the chamber of commerce’s informal "Coffee Break" with Mayor Shari Decter Hirst Friday morning.
Crane said the city’s economic development department needs to be working closely with local businesses and the chamber.
"We can all work together to work with industry and work up some incentives to keep companies here right in the city," Crane said.
"The return with the economy and jobs usually outweighs what the cost is to bring them here."
One example of a company leaving the province is Glanbia Nutritionals.
The flaxseed plant burned down last March in Angusville, and instead of rebuilding in Manitoba, the company is building a new plant in South Dakota.
Brandon Chamber of Commerce president Nate Andrews said the lobby group idea brought up on Friday may be a good direction to go.
"I think the idea is just to get some more good minds around the table, because there’s a lot of successful business people here that have a lot of knowledge to add," he said.
Andrews went on to say the city has an increased challenge, due to the fact that they "don’t have a great partner in the province to help us attract those businesses."
"The province is creating a lot of our problems with business staying here," he said. "You only have to look next door to Saskatchewan, look at all the development that has gone there with the potash, canola crushing … There’s got to be some provincial reasons why that is happening."
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said the city is "ramping up efforts" to attract businesses and develop partnerships with the business community, Brandon University’s Rural Development Institute, Assiniboine Community College and communities outside of Brandon.
"Our priority for 2013 is to expand the economic base in Brandon," Decter Hirst said.
One example of what the city hopes to attract is the oil industry.
"I think everyone in Brandon intuitively recognizes that there’s potential there, so now we need the strategy to unlock it," she said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 19, 2013