Winkler second for entrepreneurs

Winkler Mayor Martin Harder. (FILE PHOTO)

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The City of Winkler was named the second best community in Canada for entrepreneurship in a report issued by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.
Winkler was only beat out by Whitehorse, Yukon in the top ten list.
It also included Quebec cities Victoriaville, Rimouski, Riviere-du-Loup, and Val-d’Or, as well as Collingwood, Ontario, Grand Prairie, Alberta and Squamish, British Columbia.
Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said the designation was really earned thanks to actions of city councils and planners over a period of many years, and does not just reflect 2018.
“Obviously it’s very gratifying to see that happen, but it’s not a one shot deal,” he said. “This has been a long time coming and we’ve known that we have a community of entrepreneurs for many, many years. “
Harder said it’s a process to create an environment that entrepreneurs can thrive in, adding many decisions made by former councils and mayors helped pave the way.
He also pointed to the report’s focus on age. In Winkler, 25 per cent of entrepreneurs are 15-34 years old.
He also credited immigration, particularly the plot project launched by Adele Dyck in the 1990’s and early 2000’s which brought many people from Europe.
“That immigration progress has put us in the enviable position for not only the future, but what has contributed to the present,” he said.
He’s also proud that Winkler’s entrepreneurs have started from the ground up right here in the city.
“Our entrepreneurs are people who have started in Winkler, grown their business in Winkler, developed in Winkler and were able to grow their business…,” he said. “It’s not outsiders who’ve come in and done it for us. We’ve done it ourselves.”
“We wanted to create an environment where industry could prosper,” he added.
CFIB vice-president and chief economist Ted Mallett said it’s important to recognize communities that make entrepreneurship inviting.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, bringing jobs, new products and a sense of identity to their communities,” he said. “We want to celebrate that and congratulate the cities that have landed on the top of our list this year by embracing entrepreneurial values and understanding the needs of small business owners.”
The 10th edition of the CFIB Entrepreneurial Communities report evaluates Canada’s 125 most populous communities against 13 indicators they say are key. The include various demographic measures, earning levels, optimism, growth plans and local tax policy.
The ratio between property taxes for commercial and residential is one of those indicators.
While nearly all local governments tax commercial properties at much higher rates than residential properties, there are differences across Canada. Rates can be up to 4.5 times higher than residential in some jurisdictions.
They also look at provincial property tax ratios in the form of education tax. Some jurisdictions such as Quebec have a one-to-one ratio but in Ontario that can go up to a 7.9 ratio.
“What the top communities have in common is strong policy that supports small business owners and fosters entrepreneurship, namely close ratios between residential and commercial property tax,” Mallett said. “Businesses don’t use municipal services as heavily as residents, so ideally, we would see a more equal distribution of the property tax burden between them. Instituting more business-friendly commercial property tax rates is something that every community can do to make it easier on citizens to start and run a small business.”