The good news?
The vast majority — 97 per cent — of 200 local CEOs, business owners and designated senior corporate officers interviewed for a MNP-sponsored survey — indicated they expect their companies to be performing better or the same financially in 2013.
In the first survey of its kind since 2009, the MNP poll released at a Brandon Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday also showed Brandon remains an attractive place to live and work, but skilled labour shortages are still the No. 1 concern of businesses.
City council should be cheered to see that a large number of those surveyed found the city was doing a good (41.5 per cent), or fair (32 per cent) job in terms of creating a good business climate. In fact, it tied the federal government for respondents indication an excellent job was being done (5.5 per cent, with 1.0 per cent to the province).
However, council should have a collective shudder with the large number of respondents who believed the city was doing a poor (34 per cent), or just fair (35 per cent) job of managing tax dollars.
Challenges remained as they did in the last survey in 2009, with skilled labour and labour shortages being top of mind.
And the biz community apparently isn’t interested in downtown revitalization, a casino or other recreational and entertainment facilities. Even so-called affordable housing took a back seat.
Biz wants solid infrastructure — and especially better roads, with a priority being the Daly Overpass bottleneck opened up with a fourth traffic lane.
In the 2009 survey, then-mayor Dave Burgess expressed surprise at the perception that the municipal government lacked a vision for the city.
And city council still isn’t near and dear to the hearts of those business people surveyed. There seems to be a disconnect with the vision of Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, council and the business community.
However, it isn’t hurting the business sector’s optimism for the future or its perception that Brandon’s business climate is competitive with other cities.
Some 40 per cent of respondents gave Brandon a 80 per cent approval rating when it came to competitiveness, with 33 per cent suggesting a 60 per cent rating. Ten per cent gave Brandon top marks for being competitive with other cities.
Kudos for that has to go both to city hall and the city’s chamber of commerce.
The bad news? Yet another chilly response from WestJet on whether Brandon will be part of its first-round list of communities that will be served by the company’s new regional air service.
When Sun managing editor James O’Connor (@Monstereditor) tweeted out from the luncheon that the survey said a strong majority of owners and execs surveyed said air service would have very positive effect on the business climate, he received a quick response from WestJet.
“We’ve no doubt it would be a great thing for your city. We need to make sure it would be mutually beneficial,” was the reply from @WestJet.
Earlier this month, Brandon air service hopefuls also received a less than positive response to another tweet.
A Twitter exchange between O’Connor and WestJet officials shed some light on how WestJet intends to roll out its new service.
After O’Connor retweeted a Westman-based Twitter user comment that @WestJet soon bring its new passenger service to Brandon — and noted that “We’ll find out soon!” — @WestJet replied:
“Actually, new destinations will be announced every few months for about five years, so it might be a while.”
So while Brandon doesn’t appear to be on WestJet’s horizon at the moment — and we hope we’re just reading the tea leaves, or tweets, incorrectly — once they do come here they will be landing in a city with a overall positive business climate.