City of Airdrie economic development team leader Kent Rupert isn't surprised his city and other satellite communities around Calgary were ranked as the best places to do business in Canada. Photo by Carl Patzel/For CREB®Now

Calgary’s satellites rank as best places to do business

For the fourth consecutive year, Calgary’s satellite communities have been ranked as the top places to do business in Canada.

In its eighth annual Canada’s Entrepreneurial Cities report, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) ranked areas around the grouping of municipalities that surround Calgary – including Airdrie, Chestermere and Cochrane – as the best at fostering “entrepreneurial spirit.”

Calgary periphery scored 73 out of a possible 100 in the major cities category (population over 150,000), followed by Kelowna (71.4), Edmonton periphery (69.5), Saskatoon (67.7) and Toronto periphery (67.3).

Calgary ranked 45 on the list of 121 cities.

CFIB based its ranking on three main categories: presence of business growth ownership; perspective on optimism and growth plans; and the policy of local government’s business taxation and regulation actions.

“That it is a suburban area is no surprise — the outer rings of major cities are usually better incubators of new businesses because of lower relative costs but still reasonably good access to large markets,” said CFIB vice-president and chief economist Ted Mallett and document co-authors Simon Gaudreault and Andreea Bourgeois.

City of Airdrie economic development leader Kent Rupert said he isn’t surprised at the results, saying the city has always been proudly “open-for-business.”

“We continuously try to improve the processes for businesses to enter the Airdrie market,” he said, pointing to the City’s Smart Start business initiative.

“It’s a real grassroots entrepreneurial program to help businesses start. A number of different things like that just really help create the business environment in Airdrie that puts us up at number one.”

With a diverse mix of manufacturing and transportation businesses, Airdrie has also been an attractive location for head and regional office locations for larger corporations such as ATCO and Fortis Alberta.

Rupert notes the city has also seen a rise in home-based business, store-front retail and industrial ventures – including three major commercial retail areas anchored by big-box stores.

“We have no business tax, which always helps the bottom line,” he said. “Because we are a smaller administration, if things go off the track a little bit we can meet and get them right back on the tracks to make sure they are successful at the end.”

In the mid-sized cities category (population under 150,000), Penticton went from 14th last year to first this year with a score of 72.7. It was followed by Grande Prairie (70.9), Collingwood (70.8), Okotoks (70.2) and Brooks (69.5). Lloydminster dropped from first to sixth this year.

The study’s authors note that while the Prairies continued to be well represented on the lists, they are being challenged by counterparts in B.C. and Ontario.

“Although still scoring higher than average, we have noted a relative easing of the entrepreneurship indexes among cities in Alberta and Saskatchewan,” they said. “In contrast, there has been a relative rise in the scores for communities in British Columbia and parts of central Ontario.