Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) plays a big role when it comes to business in Saskatoon and the region surrounding it. A big part of what SREDA does is to help strengthen and grow the local economy by providing programs and services in the areas of business attraction and expansion; entrepreneurship; regional economic development and planning; Indigenous economic development; economic intelligence; and marketing the Saskatoon region.
A new initiative being offered by SREDA is called Local Link, which helps consumers support local businesses within the region, as well as connecting businesses to each other. The program is designed to help consumers understand how local a company is and how locally made their products and services are. “All businesses are important to keeping our economy going, but some businesses have a bigger economic impact because they are more local – have local ownership, local suppliers and produce a local product,” Alex Fallon, SREDA President and Chief Executive Officer, states in a video located on the SREDA website, explaining Local Link.
Businesses can participate in Local Link by filling out an application online – free of charge, and with this information, they will be designated a Gold, Silver or Bronze Local Link label. By taking part in this program, it helps to encourage businesses to evaluate and potentially increase their support of the local economy. Additionally, this program offers businesses a marketing opportunity.
In order to participate, businesses must be located within the Saskatoon Region, must be registered and/or incorporated with ISC and at least one of the owners of the business must reside in the Saskatoon Region.
The Local Link program began a few months ago with nine pilot businesses taking part. “We saw all of these Shop Local campaigns and wanted to figure out just how local these businesses are, not only looking at it from a consumers perspective, but also a supplier and productions perspective,” Kristen Johannesson – Manager, Regional Economic Development and Planning with SREDA, stated.
From there, the business was analyzed with everything from ownership, employees, where a product is packaged, where products are produced, how invested the business is in the community, where their suppliers come from, who they use for outsourcing of items such as marketing, accounting, legal, etc.
Currently, there have been approximately 25 businesses participate in the Local Link program, although Joanne Baczuk – Director, Business Development, noted that that is just the tip of the ice berg on how many companies they would like to see. “Part of this is to also look at everyone’s supply chain and see if there are gaps. If we find that there are 3 or 4 micro-breweries that are sourcing their bottles from somewhere else, maybe we need a bottle manufacturer in the Saskatoon region and maybe target our efforts towards that,” Baczuk explained.
A major part of this program is to help bring businesses together and supporting one another. “Helping businesses expand is part of our role, but also finding gaps and bringing in new businesses. All of those pieces fall within this Local Link program,” added Baczuk.
Once companies provide their information and are assigned a Gold, Silver or Bronze standard, they receive a Local Link decal and certificate to display within their business. “The more companies that we can do that for, the more awareness the consumer will find and start to recognize the Local Link,” Baczuk said.
SREDA is working in partnership with both the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce to help bring more awareness of this program to local businesses.
For more information about SREDA and the Local Link program, visit www.sreda.com.