ACC Media Release: 12/18/2023
The ease of doing business: a municipal conversation
Municipal red tape research
Edmonton, AB — In a recent survey conducted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC) network, business expansion and growth is trending upward, yet more needs to be done to ease the cost of doing business in municipalities.
- Tax on tax on tax. In addition to corporate tax and property tax impacting your bottom line, you may also experience higher operating costs due to an insurance premium tax, municipal franchise fees, municipal utilities or a volatile Regulated Rate Option on your utilities. These ranked as the top negative impacts on business competitiveness and growth across Alberta.
- Businesses undertaking a renovation or expansion is trending upwards after being on the decline for the past few years. This underlines the importance of using revenues to grow operations and our economy rather than just to sustain operations due to increased costs to business.
- The majority of businesses aren’t familiar with municipal franchise fees, which appear as a rate rider on your power or gas bill. Municipal council set these fees, which are collected from consumers and then given to your municipality as a revenue source.
- Over one-third of businesses expressed concern over the impact of the Regulated Rate Option, a variable cost for power and gas consumption. It may be worth exploring a contractual fixed rate with a utility reseller to see if you can stabilize your energy costs and avoid unexpected expenses.
- Businesses are far more likely to connect with elected officials than be contacted by them, and see the most benefit from that contact at the municipal level. Your local chamber of commerce can also engage your local, provincial or federal government on your behalf, saving you time and money.
Here You Grow Again
- If you are looking to renovate your business, start the conversation early with your municipal planning and development department. Business consistently reports that timelines, understanding guidelines and timely communication are challenges.
- You’re likely used to running at the speed of business. Gear down, and take the time to plan your project at the municipal level. Many businesses feel that development officers and elected officials make discretionary decisions, or use a process that doesn’t align with municipal growth mandates.
- Business operators feel that planning and development bylaws are complex, so get on the same page as your local development officer to mitigate decisions that may negatively impact your plans for sustainability or growth.
- It’s likely that these challenges are behind two-thirds of business operators feeling that the customer service they provide clients is a higher quality when compared to the service received from their municipality.
- If business operators feel that is a municipality is not "business friendly” or has too much “red tape” there is hesitation in recommending their municipality as a place to set up shop to a friend or colleague.
Want to Accelerate Your Business?
- Two thirds of businesses (up from just 28% in 2022) report that a government agency has reached out to them in the last year, many of them economic development agencies.
The Government of Alberta has small business supports webpage with a number of resources (www.alberta.ca/small-business-resources) and PrairiesCan, a federal department, has a number of programs to help businesses scale up (www.canada.ca/en/prairies-economic-development/services/support.html) which 59% of respondents report being beneficial to sustaining or growing their business.
December 18, 2023
Manager, Advocacy and Research
(780) 425-4180 ex. 2