As Wetaskiwin moves through the current COVID-19 pandemic, the City’s Economic Development office is building on its efforts to connect with businesses and support them through these unprecedented times.
Phase 1 featured the creation of a business resource centre – a one-stop-shop for local businesses to understand how the City, regional, provincial and federal governments were responding to COVID-19, explains Candace Coughlan, Wetaskiwin’s Manager of Economic Development.
In Phase 2, business outreach was the top priority. “This included promoting surveys relevant to our region and business community, encouraging businesses to reach out to our Economic Development team, and partnering with the Leduc & Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce on calling each and every business located in Wetaskiwin,” Coughlan says. “The goal was—and remains—understanding how the City of Wetaskiwin can best assist our businesses through COVID-19.”
Through this process, the City reached out to 551 businesses and had direct communication with 332.
“We received some really great feedback which fed into Phase 3 – developing supports for our business community. These have included: deferring property tax payments, deferring penalties and cancellations on our utility payments, deferring enforcement of business licenses, suspending our plastic bag ban, pushing the fees and charges amendments on intermodal containers, and ensuring businesses knew about the ability to work outside of normal hours with a noise permit for COVID-related challenges,” Coughlan says.
In addition, a top priority is aiding businesses to better understand the federal and provincial support programs for business. “This is where the bulk of our time has been spent,” she adds.
Relaunching the Wetaskiwin economy
Looking forward, the City is now entering into Phase 4 of post-pandemic planning, or as the Province calls it, re-launching our economy. “In this phase we’ll work with partners to provide training for businesses as we re-open through the Province’s phased approach, continued business outreach to understand long-term impacts of COVID-19 and reconsider our marketing plan for the community,” Coughlan says.
Recognizing that recovery from COVID-19 will be a long process world-wide, the City will explore opportunities that will assist in focusing on the long-term outlook.
“Maintaining contact with the local business community throughout the pandemic and connecting them with supports has been a priority of the City,” says Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam. “Local business owners and operators are the backbone of our community and our economic development team is working hard to help them see the pandemic through.”
To learn more about the City’s business supports and response to COVID-19, visit covidwetaskiwin.ca/index.php/business-supports