Yorkton is at the hub of Saskatchewan’s third largest trading area.
That is an often referred to factoid, and one we as a community cannot lose sight of.
The strength of our city rests primarily on it being home to an array of businesses which serve the larger region.
When we say that we immediately think of machinery dealerships serving area farmers and stores providing a large range of goods to area patrons.
But even our larger industries exist to serve the region, and beyond.
Take manufacturers such as Morris Industries and Leon Manufacturing. They provide the service of jobs to people not just in the city, but the region, and those people produce products sold locally, provincially and internationally.
Then there are the canola crushing plants which send a ripple of spin offs through our city when both were built a few years ago.
They rely on the canola producers of the region to deliver production to the plants, which in turns generates return dollars for those producers. In most cases at least a portion of the dollars those farmers realized from delivering canola to the plants will be spent in our community.
It is all part of being the hub of a large wheel.
So it is always interesting to see what a new Yorkton Chamber of Commerce president has to say in terms of issues as they take the reins of the business organization.
Don Rae is the new head for 2014, and in a recent Yorkton This Week interview touched on things he saw as critical to both retaining existing business, and in attracting new business to the city.
It might have been expected Rae would have talked about tax levels and development fees, the sort of dollars and cents issue which are often talked about as being a deterrent to business if too high.
But Rae went a different direction where asked where he thought the Chamber’s combined energies needed to be focused?
“Housing is a critical thing,” he said.
While some people might question how housing is a business issue, he said people looking to relocate, or start a new business in the city have to see there is affordable housing for staff.
Even among established businesses, housing is something that is important to staff, added Rae.
It is an interesting view, and one which the City here seems keenly aware of having established a Housing Committee to look into the issue.
Rae looked at the new hospital proposed for the city in the same way.
“Helping promote and lobby for a new hospital is going to be critical,” he said.
Certainly as the new hospital gains momentum and gains the green light from the province business will have to show its support for the project with donation dollars, which would seem logical given Rae’s view of health care’s importance to business.
Rae said when a business looks to locate in the city, schools, recreational facilities and health care are all critical factors because those are the things staff look for.
When it comes to education Rae said the Parkland College Trades and Technology Centre to be built this year is a big part of the picture.
“I think totally they made the right decision,” he said.
“Number one it’s going to bring a lot of talent into the community,” adding hopefully a lot of the graduates can be retained by local businesses.
In supporting the College of course business will benefit from access to better trained staff.
In the end what Rae is talking about is how Yorkton must provide residents with a rounded lifestyle, one which provides for recreation, health and education, making the city one where people whether business owners or staff can be happy.
If those elements are here, then business will be here, and the city will remain the vibrant hub it has long been.