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Business Retention & Expansion Report 2011


Clinton BR+E Report 2011


Clinton Business Retention and Expansion Report 2011


CONTENTS 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

Acknowledgements Introduction to BR+E Community Advantages Business Profile Doing Business in Clinton Local Development Markets Communication Business to Business Support Downtown Revitalization Action Plans Conclusion 20. Clinton BR+E Team

Clinton BR+E Report 2011


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS As a community based, volunteer driven program, the Business Retention and Expansion Program (BR+E) is the result of dedicated and commitment by volunteers, businesses and community leaders. The Municipality of Central Huron, in partnership with the Clinton Business Improvement Association (CBIA) would like to thank the business community, all the volunteers and the community as a whole for their continued commitment and dedication to the BR+E Program. This project was overseen by the CBIA. The study was conducted, analysed and presented by Genny Smith of GS Consulting.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

INTRODUCTION TO BR+E “Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) is a community-based, volunteer driven economic development tool to encourage the growth and stability of local business. BR+E promotes a welcoming business environment. It fosters job growth and economic prosperity in Ontario by helping communities identify actions to address both opportunities and barriers facing local businesses.” -Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs The Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) Program took the pulse of Clinton businesses during the Summer of 2011. The Clinton BIA (CBIA) received feed back from businesses in the town of Clinton through in person interviews. This report provides information on the background, key findings, and recommendations of the 2011 BR+E survey. The overall goal of the BR+E is to build a positive business environment for the success of local businesses and ultimately the success of the community. Including, but not limited to:  

 

Accurately assess the needs of business Provide assistance to businesses that will help them to survive economic difficulties and assist them with expansions that add new jobs Build cooperation and consensus among local government, economic development organizations and businesses Facilitates the development and implementation of actions to address urgent business issues i.e. Early warning systems Facilitates the development of an improved local business climate


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

COMMUNITY ADVANTAGES Community Highlights • • • •

Quality of Life Business loyalty Location Growth potential

Local Market Strengths • • • •

Collaborative spirit Customer Service focused Community based businesses Proactive business community

Overall, businesses surveyed agreed that Clinton is a good or excellent place in which to do business and is a great place to live in terms of quality of life. It is important to note the 78% of business owners and employees reside in the Municipality of Central Huron. With a strong sense of community, over 90% of businesses surveyed participate in local events and festivals with majority of contributions being financial. The business community overwhelmingly believes that key services provided by the Municipality of Central Huron to Clinton are good to excellent, including schools, hospitals, churches, fire services and recreational facilities.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

BUSINESS PROFILE The business profile examines the existing business community identifying the type, size, employee numbers, location and facilities. It is essential to understand the existing situation in order to develop an effective plan to strengthen and expand the business community. The business profile provides the background information and an understanding of the current business community. In terms of the businesses legal form, approximately half of the businesses indicate they are corporations and sole proprietorships, non-profit and partnerships . These businesses are primarily small businesses with approximately 72% of the businesses employing six and under employees. Corporation Sole Proprietorship Non-Profit Corporation Partnership

44% 44% 10% 2%

26% of the businesses surveyed were a franchise. This demonstrates the need for local small business support through the municipality and CBIA. Close to 90% of the businesses were established in the community and have been operating here since conception. Approximately 18% of the businesses have been started in the past 3 years suggesting opportunities for business growth. Approximately 60% of the businesses have been in existence over 10 years indicating sustainable business operations . However, the aging operations suggest a need for succession planning in the near future.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

DOING BUSINESS IN CLINTON Although the BR+E findings are that the majority of Clinton business owners are happy with Clinton as a place to do business, there are a few key factors and barriers that need to be addressed. These items are also top priority in the action plan and strategic initiatives of the BR+E project (see page 18).

Top 4 barriers in doing business in Clinton 1. 2. 3. 4.

Beautification Business Retention and Communication Parking New Business Recruitment

92% 78% 72% 68%


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

Beautification: A major barrier of retention and expansion for the local businesses in Clinton is the appearance of the town in general. • Brand the town (consistent theme throughout) • Street signs • Directional signs • Landscaping (town gardens, flower planters (more needed), etc.) • Store signage (consistent designs and removal of non existing business signage and ‘eyesore’ signage) • Community service boards revamped • Façade upgrades • Seasonal decorations to be set up in a timely manner


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

DOING BUSINESS IN CLINTON Business Retention and Communication Businesses feel they have little to no communication with the local municipality and between businesses. The lack of awareness and communication as an attractive business community was seen as an opportunity for improvement. • Hire a Community Improvement Consultant to liaison between and report to each • Facilitate various networking meetings, marketing campaigns and events (year round) • Bimonthly newsletters on businesses and happenings within the business community • Acknowledge new businesses and current business issues with regular visits to businesses • Strengthen local leadership base


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

DOING BUSINESS IN CLINTON New Business Recruitment Lack of proactive business recruitment was identified as a barrier to growth. The majority of businesses have been established for more than ten years. This indicates a lack of new business growth in the community. Clinton business owners see the following 8 business as beneficial additions to the community : 1. Men’s clothing store 2. Franchise Restaurant 3. Children’s clothing store 4. Sporting goods store 5. Health Food Store/Bulk Food Store 6. Internet Café 7. Department Store 8. Fabric Store


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

DOING BUSINESS IN CLINTON Parking In order to have the traffic flow stop in Clinton there must be available parking. Business owners suggested the following as possible solutions: • Remove old fire hall and make into a parking lot • Ensure employees park at the back of their buildings (to ensure customers get parking out front of their businesses) • Angle parking in the downtown to get the maximum amount of cars parked in the downtown at one time

      

Other Key Factors: Need for more industry (job creation) Lack of properly zoned and designated land Cross walks need to be revamped Website development and e-marketing Business networking/workshops Sidewalks, pedestrian traffic Improved public transit


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

LOCAL DEVELOPMENT The businesses were asked questions regarding their future plans within the next few years. Most of the plans reflect positive changes resulting in business expansion. Ontario small and medium businesses account for more than 40% of economic activity in the province and employ over half of Ontario workers. This demonstrates the importance of growth in small businesses throughout the area. 16% of businesses surveyed are planning renovations in the next two years. The expansions will result in an increase in work force, additional services for customers, additional investment in equipment and technology and additional product line. A key objective is to support business expansion and relocation of businesses in Clinton. Forecasting the next 3 years, Clinton businesses stated: Remain the Same Expand Downsize Close

81% 16% 5% 5%

A number of actions were identified to address key concerns of business expansion and retention:  Develop workshops to ensure the lack of knowledge in specific areas for local businesses can be address (i.e. marketing, business and succession planning)  Networking functions  Business collaboration Of the four businesses that were planning to close two said there could be nothing done. Funding was a potential issue with the remaining two businesses.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

MARKETS The markets section is focused on information pertaining to market share, sales volume, customer needs and marketing programs. This information is important for remaining competitive while identifying strategic partnerships that work to leverage resources. There are many factors that play a role in maintaining competitiveness. Some of the most important factors for our local businesses include developing the local market and the outlying area markets, keeping up to date with products and services, strategic marketing plans, maintaining high levels of customer service. Customer needs are primarily identified through informal customer contacts (79%) while other methods include sales calls, marketing publications and electronic (emails/websites). This demonstrates a need for proactive methods such as market research and surveys to identify customer needs ensuring the businesses retain a competitive edge. In rural communities it is imperative to take proactive measures to ensure the businesses won’t be impacted by negative word of mouth.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

COMMUNICATION Respondents identified the need to improve communication in a number of areas   

Communication between the Municipality and local businesses Communication between business to business Communication between business and local business organizations

79% of respondents were unsure if the Municipality had a business economic plan. 51% did not know what was being done by the Municipality in terms of business economic development. A key objective is to build a Communications Strategy through a Community Improvement Plan to identify specific actions to increase communication, build awareness, develop partnerships, and facilitate group collaborations to bridge the gap between the municipality, local business organizations and the businesses they serve.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

BUSINESS TO BUSINESS SUPPORT Business to business support identified where businesses purchase products and services. This works to identify gaps and opportunities to increase local support and purchases of goods and services in Clinton. Currently only 38% of products and services are purchased within the community. The reasons that products are not purchased locally include the availability, increased local price and the quality of products available. Typically the products are not available and/or not competitively priced for businesses to purchase them. In surveying the local businesses 74% of business owners work in the day to day operations. This does not allow local business owners time to research other area businesses and services located in the town. The lack of knowledge of other Clinton businesses and services was particularity high, therefore making it hard to buy products/services locally and also to refer customers to other Clinton businesses.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Through the data analysis process, four strategic themes were identified and then associated with strategic planning objectives. More detailed objectives and actions for each theme can be found in the “Action Plans� on page 18. Requests for Information/Assistance: 89% of local businesses would participate in a collaboration/networking/information sharing seminar and/or group 91% of Clinton businesses were interested in a joint marketing initiative


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION The importance of downtown revitalization was expressed as an important issue with 58% of Clinton businesses. • Downtown revitalization strategy 58% • Retail gap analysis and business recruitment 55% • Remove & repair ‘eyesore’ buildings 40% • Improve streetscape 35% • More restaurants and entertainment facilities 28% • Improved parking 23% It was unanimous that the look and feel of Clinton was of great importance to the majority of the businesses in surveyed.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

ACTION PLANS SHORT TERM ACTIONS (October – December 2011)  Municipality to hire a Community Improvement Consultant to facilitate the following action plans; • First Impression Project (OMAFRA) • Apply for Main Street program (OMAFRA) • Visit local businesses on a frequent basis – including a welcome package to Clinton/Central Huron/BIA package for new businesses • Additional façade improvements-would include a Community Improvement Plan MID TERM ACTIONS (October 2011 – ongoing)  Town Branding – theme driven  Marketing and Promotion - partner with Huron County to utilize the existing tools and programs offered by the county (i.e. Shop in Huron and Invest in Huron), to implement networking, joint business marketing/branding , events/festivals and to access available business locations for sale or lease  Façade improvements (request façade grant be increased)  Workshop training events - succession planning, marketing, sales, community involvement LONG TERM ACTIONS  Active business recruitment  Ongoing business relationships with existing businesses  Leadership and management


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

CONCLUSION Clinton is a wonderful place to do business while enjoying a high quality of life and sense of community. The town is full of opportunity which can be captured by addressing strategies detailed in the action plan. The community based approach creates local commitment while developing a knowledge base of what drives their local economy and how they can become proactive in setting the direction for long term community sustainability and growth.


Clinton BR+E Report 2011

Clinton BR+E Team Clinton BIA Board of Management Jeff Roy Sandy Garnet Glen Hayter Dan Groves Kaushik Patel Nancy DeGans Percy McDonald Patrick and Linda Nagle Joanne Poelman

Council Rep Dan Colquhoun Municipality of Central Huron Kevin McIlwain, C.A.O. Huron County Douglas Barill, Business Development Coordinator GS Consulting Genny Smith

Clinton BR+E 2011