City of Airdrie
The City of Airdrie is a growing community that is home to small businesses and young families alike. Situated just minutes north of Calgary, the City of Airdrie is ideally located and within close proximity to major transportation networks, such as Highway 2 and the Calgary International Airport, making it an accessible hub for business.
As one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, Airdrie’s population has doubled over the last 10 years, experiencing about an eight per cent annual growth rate, to its current population of more than 45,000. Airdrie offers a young community and attractive amenities that make for an exceptional quality of life. From affordable cost of living and accommodation, to sports and recreation activities, and an intimate sense of community, Airdrie offers the full spectrum.
Business Satisfaction & Success
Across the business landscape, the City of Airdrie does not collect a business tax rate, making the community an attractive base for business. That much is evident given the more than 1,800 businesses that call Airdrie home, of which about 1,000 are home-based, small businesses.
“We see home-based businesses as our business incubator,” Kent Rupert, Economic Development Team Leader with the City of Airdrie, told The Canadian Business Journal. “In 2011, we conducted a business satisfaction survey and we discovered that 28 per cent of our home-based businesses would eventually like to move into store fronts. Economic theory tells us that usually that’s about three to five per cent, so we have a very entrepreneurial community.”
As a manufacturing and transportation and logistics hub, many businesses in Airdrie supply to Alberta and Western Canada’s growing consumer and energy sector. Local small- and medium-sized businesses continue to drive Airdrie forward, and the net result has been an array of industries moving into the city, from manufacturers to the retail sector.
“We’ve traditionally seen our growth come from the small business sector, but that’s changing,” Rupert explained. “Over the past several years, we’ve seen major national and international businesses choose Airdrie for their Western Canada operations.”
The list includes companies like TransCanada Turbines, Costco, Mirolin Industries Corporation, and Alberta Injection Mouldings.
It’s not just new arrivals that find success in Airdrie. Techmation Electric and Controls Ltd. has been headquartered in Airdrie for nearly a decade. Most recently, Deloitte named it one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. Companies see that Airdrie offers a location and business environment where they can be successful.
“Our business satisfaction survey reflected that 78 per cent of our businesses have no problem finding and retaining employees. The other interesting thing is that about 35 per cent of our workforce comes from Calgary into Airdrie,” Rupert explained. “We have a real draw from around the region as well. A lot of our employees come from small towns to work in Airdrie.”
Another key to Airdrie is its smaller local government. Processes and permits move through the system efficiently, meaning that businesses are less restricted and are encouraged to grow and develop.
Quality of Life
Owning one of Alberta’s lowest property tax brackets makes Airdrie an attractive setting for both businesses and young families. Accordingly, a March 2013 Citizen Satisfaction Survey indicated that 96 per cent of residents rated Airdrie’s quality of life as ‘good to very good’, while 72 per cent felt Airdrie offers a good return for their tax dollars. Even through the economic downturn growth continued in Airdrie, as the city reported a near 12 per cent increase in residential growth.
“People feel very safe in the community,” Rupert said. “Although we are a city, we still have that small town atmosphere where people know their neighbours and feel safe.
Home to a range of recreational amenities, Airdrie has an exceptional minor hockey program, as well as a BMX Program where several past participants have gone on to represent Airdrie nationally. The state-of-the-art Genesis Place Recreation Centre, home to swimming pools, sports fields, an indoor track, a gymnastics centre, plus recently developed ice surfaces, offers a range of recreation choices, keeping Airdrie’s young families active.
Rupert added, “We’ve also just developed a new regional park that is home to a big skateboard park, a splash pad, and will eventually have a toboggan hill.
We are making sure we have lots of recreational activities for families.”
In an effort to further bring together the local community, integrated pathways link Airdrie neighbourhoods and, once the development is completed, the walkways will extend access across the entire city.
Given the growth that Airdrie has seen in recent years, the City is proactive about its future growth. In 2004, Airdrie added 7,000 acres of land as part of its 30-year strategy to accommodate local growth. As part of a new 60-year strategy, Airdrie annexed another 12,000 acres of land last year. The added capacity allows the community to continue growing, to pursue residential development, and to continue attracting families, new businesses, and commercial and industrial opportunities to Airdrie.