By Jamie Rieger
Last week was one to celebrate the hard work and community spirit of Bow Island and area’s small businesses, which provide employment, support each other, and contribute to the well-being of the community. Small businesses not only drive the local economy, but also help in donating to local non-profit groups, such as sports and special interest groups, to help keep the town vibrant and active.
On Friday evening, the Bow Island/Burdett and District Chamber of Commerce held their annual awards night with a wine and cheese celebration held at the Bow Island Legion.
Bow Island Apple Drugs was selected as this year’s Business of the Year. (Watch of story in next week’s Commentator.)
Following a presentation on Chamber group insurance plans by JoAnne Letkeman, owner of Brightan Financial Strategies in Medicine Hat, and opening remarks by Chamber president, Bernice DeLeenheer, Bow Island mayor, Gordon Reynolds saluted local, small business.
“Small business represents 35 percent of business in Canada. In Bow Island, it is closer to 99 percent,” said Reynolds. “Our local services are important to the community. It is hard for local retailers to compete with the big box stores. Our local businesses are trying hard and there are benefits for the whole community.”
With the landscape of politics in Alberta and Canada drastically changing in recent, Reynolds told those in attendance that there are many unknowns when it comes to municipal funding from both levels of government.
“These are interesting times in Canada and Alberta…We have to deal with it and work with it. Oil prices have had an impact on our business community, but lately I have seen some help wanted signs posted and houses being built. That’s one of the benefits of small business. They can adapt better and recover better than the big giants,” he said. “For the town itself, there has been no provincial budget since last year and no clear policies. We know the budget is coming in with an operating deficit of $5-5.5 billion and it could be up to $7 billion just on the operating side. We are under review of Municipal Government Act and part of that is what it will do to our overall funding. The Municipal Affairs minister said he would introduce it to legislature.”
“We need long-term, predictible, and stable funding and we need help getting this old infrastructure replaced,” he went on to say.
Current political interest in alternative energy development by the provincial and federal governments may be beneficial to the local economy down the road.
“Trudeau and Notley are going to be pushing alternative enegery and Lord knows we’ve got wind here,” said Reynolds. “Bow Island would get some spin-off from any wind energy development and it would be great for this area.”
The awards presentations closed out the evening.
Small Business awards:
LONG-SERVICE – Len’s Foods
AGRI-BUSINESS – Viterra Bean Plant
HOME-BASED BUSINESS – Creative Solutions
MOST INNOVATIVE – Tranquility Lane Flower Shop
SPIRIT OF BOW ISLAND – ATB Financial
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – Bow Island Apple Drugs