A business visitation pilot project for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

By Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo [CC-BY-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB), home to Fort McMurray and much of the Athabasca Oil Sands, has more than almost any other community in Canada experienced considerable economic change and growth in the past decade. With our firm’s understanding of the shifting economy in Alberta and Canada, the value and process of business retention and expansion, and regional economic development, MDB Insight undertook a Business Visitation Pilot Project for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

The goals of the Business Visitation Pilot Project were to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities for local businesses so that the municipality could better support their growth; address immediate business concerns; build a better relationship between the Municipality and business; and develop a strategy and action plan towards the implementation of a full Business Visitation Program.

The project team completed the design and implementation of a communications strategy, interviewer and data entry training and extensive data collection and analysis. The project team designed the business visitation survey, which included questions about the business climate, future plans to relocate or expand, business development, including use of social media and workforce development. The data was not only summarized, but select questions were cross-tabulated against each other to reveal more salient information from the survey results.  The final report also included a detailed action plan and recommendations on how to implement a full business visitation program including a software evaluation and detailed budgeting.

The Business Visitation Pilot Project will enable the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to increase local employment, tax assessment and move towards a diversified, sustainable regional economy.