City of Corner Brook
Situated on the shores of the Bay of Islands, the City of Corner Brook, N.L. is a quaint community and industrial service centre for its surrounding region. As a hub for healthcare, retail, and government services, Corner Brook provides to a local population of about 20,000 residents as well as a greater community of 35,000 people.
Many in the surrounding communities are employed in Corner Brook, for a commute on the TransCanada Highway through the mountainous landscape, scenic community, and alongside the flowing Humber River. Neville Greeley, Mayor of the City of Corner Brook, told The Canadian Business Journal, “Most places with our population are bedroom communities, but Corner Brook is very much where the economic activity takes place. We are the economic centre for the west of the island.”
Mayor Greeley, who first came to Corner Brook in 1981, noted the vast opportunities available in the city, from organized activities and sports leagues, to an abundance of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, hunting, and cross-country skiing, all within reach in Corner Brook. The city is particularly a prime area to raise a young family.
“I came to Corner Brook because it is a great place to live with most everything that anybody could want,” Mayor Greeley summarized. “It is big enough and it is small enough. That was nearly 25 years ago and now I have no intention of leaving any time soon.”
Given its smaller size, Corner Brook has an uncharacteristic, multi-faceted economic base. Formerly a pulp and paper mill town, Corner Brook has grown its local economy across several sectors, from retail, to tourism, to education. On the education side, Corner Brook focuses on its post-secondary opportunities with the city home to campuses of Memorial University as well as the College of the North Atlantic. The Grenfell Campus of Memorial University has engaged in several major infrastructure additions in recent years, including a new science centre as well as new residence developments.
“We have centred some of our future economic activity around growing those institutions and capitalizing on the ever-growing number of students,” Mayor Greeley explained. “We encourage local businesses to adapt their services to meet the needs of the students.”
For the local business community, the City of Corner Brook has developed a variety of tax incentives that entice small businesses across the city to pursue growth opportunities. One example is the refurbishment program which credits businesses that update and improve the exterior look of their business. One net result of this program is that a modern and attractive business draws greater customer appeal.
The City of Corner Brook has also refined its business tax categories to simplify an often bureaucratic, time consuming, and discouraging part of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. The revamp meant no local business saw a tax increase and most received an overall lower business tax rate.
“We are creating an environment where businesses prosper and we have seen the benefits of that,” Mayor Greeley detailed. “We have seen companies within the region relocate their headquarters to Corner Brook, where in the past three years we have had two major construction companies move their operations to the city.”
Across the city, Corner Brook has witnessed a construction boom, particularly in the healthcare sector. Corner Brook is home to Western Memorial Regional Hospital, serving the population of Western Newfoundland, which has undergone an expansion of three new protective care units, plus the addition of a new long-term care facility. More recently, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a $227 million project for a modernized healthcare complex to be based in Corner Brook. In the private sector, the City of Corner Brook has added several new properties, including a new curling club, as well as a new water treatment facility. The $50 million project will be ready for Spring 2015.
The City of Corner Brook is currently developing its Integrated Municipal Sustainability Plan, an initiative which directs the future development of the city. As Mayor Greeley described, “We looked at all the districts and zones that we had within the city’s boundaries, what fit, what could be changed, and we went through public consultation. This plan will set the parameters for the development of Corner Brook that is sustainable from all perspectives: environmental, economical, and social. We have also developed our economic development sustainability pillars moving forward.”
Cultural arts are a big part of Corner Brook and the city recognizes that its post-secondary institutions continue to produce top flight graduates in theatre and fine arts. Accordingly, the city has partnered with the Rotary Arts Committee to incubate these talents, grow the local arts movement, build the community profile, and the overall investment attraction of Corner Brook. The city has also partnered with the Corner Brook Port Corporation in an effort to identify further business opportunities in the community, particularly along its picturesque waterfront.
“We have partnered with the Port Corporation on future economic activity that it can attract. The relationship between the City and the Port Corporation is very strong because we all pull in the same direction,” Mayor Greeley concluded. “The opportunities are tremendous and we are certainly looking to grow that piece the Corner Brook economy.”