Small Business Week takes place from October 20-26 and we wanted to celebrate this by looking at the contributions that our local businesses make to the community. After speaking to the City of Martensville, Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce and some local organizations, it is abundantly clear that our community would not have all of the things that we love about it without the contributions of our local businesses. Take some time this week and let our businesses know that they are appreciated!
City of Martensville Encourages Residents to Shop Local
In 2019, the City of Martensville saw nine new commercial starts, which Community Economic Development Manager Dillon Shewchuk says is steady; however certainly not as rapid of growth as we were seeing five years ago. “We are still seeing lots of entrepreneurial activity; people looking to start small businesses or looking at expansion options. People are optimistic about the future.” This past year, development within the South Industrial area, located along 10th Avenue began, which Shewchuk noted is a positive area for growth as it has quick access to Highways 11 and 12.
In terms of local business support, the City of Martensville is 100% behind the Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce when it comes to their ‘Love What’s Local’ initiative. “Not only does something like this support local business, but it also helps on the attraction side of things because other businesses and companies that are looking for places to locate to, pay attention to how well businesses are supported by the local people. Not only that; but when local businesses are supported, that gives opportunity to potentially expand in the future,” Shewchuk explained.
Although Martensville is a community with a population of approximately 10,800, Shewchuk noted that there is a lot of money leaving the area and that local support is similar to that of a community of 5 or 6 thousand. “We have the customers here, it is just a matter of making them more aware of what is here so they utilize the local services. This can be a long process because you have to change their traditional shopping patterns. From there, once the local business gets them through the doors, they have to retain that customer,” Shewchuk said.
Back in 2013, the City of Martensville created a Consumer Survey, where they gained information on what services residents would like to see within the community. Since then, many of the items that people were looking for have happened; however, Shewchuk stated that there is always room for more growth. Shewchuk often has people coming into his office asking for information about business venture opportunities within the community, and although not all of them come to fruition, the interest is still there.
With only a short drive separating Martensville from Saskatoon, many local residents will often go to a familiar location within Saskatoon instead of looking at options within the area. “I think people would be surprised to see the wide variety of businesses that we do have in the area. Local business owners want to put their best foot forward and retain customers and I think that people will find that the local businesses can be just as competitive as Saskatoon or elsewhere.”
“Our local businesses do so much for the community and add a vibrancy and culture to the community. They also build our local tax base to support all things that residents want and like within the community. They are community leaders, so we encourage our residents to look to see what is available to them locally as much as possible.”
Prairie Sky Chamber Creates Line of Communication Between Local
Residents and Business Community
Approximately one year ago, the Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce (PSCC) launched an initiative called “Love What’s Local” in order to help promote local business and encourage local residents to support these businesses. The initiative is also in place to help empower business owners by challenging their thinking and encouraging them to tell their story. “We felt that it was important to our area to get people more aware of all of the services that are actually available to them local,” PSCC Chair Tracey Fesiuk of Martensville Plumbing & Heating explained.
Earlier this year, the PSCC conducted a survey through the ‘Love What’s Local’ initiative and were able to learn a lot from the results. “We wanted to get opinions from our local residents on what they are looking for, why are they shopping outside of the region, what gaps are they finding within the business community, what could help encourage their businesses to stay here; whether that be through hours, services provided, products available, that sort of thing.”
Once the results of the survey were received, the PSCC went through them in depth and met with business owners in the region to share the information. “The goal is to take these results and learn how we can better encourage and support our businesses and the community as a whole by promoting the benefits of shopping local. Local businesses want to gain your business and keep your business, so they are often open to what they can do to make your customer experience the best one possible,” Fesiuk noted.
Over the past ten years, the services provided within the region have vastly grown in variety and that is something that can be attributed to the growth that Martensville and surrounding communities have seen. Fesiuk stated that although the population within the region has grown, many residents are commuting to Saskatoon for work each day, and therefore spending their money within Saskatoon; however, she noted that, “By having a thriving business community in the region, it attracts more business and encourages current businesses to grow, which provides more employment options for our local residents.”
On top of providing employment options, Fesiuk commented on how the businesses within the region consistently give back to their communities through support of local events, organizations, projects and more. “A lot of what takes place in Martensville and surrounding areas wouldn’t be possible without the support of local businesses contributing through funding, participation and other forms of assistance.”
“If there is something that you do not think is available in the community, ask around, because you might be surprised just how many options there are,” said Fesiuk. Another option is that if what you are looking for isn’t available, talk to business owners because they might be willing and able to bring in the product that you are looking for. “We have done this with our own business. We had customers that were coming in and looking for an item that we didn’t carry, so we started carrying it now. We don’t know if you don’t ask.”
For more information about this initiative, visit http://www.prairieskychamber.ca, or follow the ‘Love What’s Local’ page on Facebook. If anyone has any suggestions or comments regarding the local business community, Fesiuk encourages contacting the PSCC in order to help make the businesses in the area aware. “One of the great things about the Chamber is that we can be a conduit between our local residents and the business community and people are able to contact all of the businesses through one source.”
Local Businesses Give Back to Community in Many Ways
Small Business Week takes place from October 20-26 and it is important to take a moment to think about everything that local business does for the community. Not only do these businesses provide a service to the local residents, but these are the businesses that give back to their community in many forms; whether it is through scholarships, sponsorships, financial support, in-kind donations and more.
Last year, Martensville High School graduates received over $16,500 in scholarship money and out of that amount, $7300 was donated by local businesses. “We are extremely grateful to have donors who have been donating scholarships annually for up to 20 years. This support means the world to our grade twelve students. Post-secondary education and life after high school in general is very expensive. Opportunities such as local scholarships give students the opportunity to focus on their studies rather than working in order to cover the cost of tuition, textbooks and in some cases room & board. As our school and community continue to grow, it is our goal to have more scholarship opportunities available to students to help ease the financial burden of post-secondary education,” MHS Teacher Breanne Cooper explained.
These local businesses are also a major contributing factor when it comes to supporting local sports. Many of the local teams contact local businesses to help with fundraisers they are hosting, events they are running and many local businesses have made it possible for many of the local ball diamonds, soccer pitches, football fields, and more. The Maddog youth football team is one of the many local teams that has experienced this benefit firsthand. “The Maddog youth football program has been in existence for 16 years and could not function without the continued support of our community and our outlying communities. The annual Homecoming is so well supported with donations for our raffle table as our businesses are so willing to support us. Our winter program is also an area where we look for support and this has contributed to its success,” Janine Hayward commented.
The Martensville Community Recreation Project (MCRP) Chairperson Jesse Reis noted that their organization would not have had the success that they have without the support from many local businesses. “We have had so much support from the local business community and as we step into the next phase of the campaign to construct a new recreation facility in Martensville, the contributions from these local businesses are going to be vital in helping us reach our goal. There is no way we would be where we are without the support that we have received over the years,” Reis said. When the MCRP was first created, Reis explained that having local businesses that people were familiar with backing them, helped to add that recognition. “When we first started our 3 on 3 tournament, if it wasn’t for that support, we don’t know if it would have even been an option. Now, five years later, it is our biggest fundraiser we hold each year.”