The Estevan Chamber of Commerce has released the results of its annual business expansion and retention survey.
The chamber surveyed 35 representatives of the local professional services sector last year, including lawyers, physicians and accountants and more. The organization then had to tabulate the results.
Most of the results were favourable, according to executive director Michel Cyrenne.
“It was not really a surprise to me that most of these businesses are growing,” said Cyrenne. “Sixty-three per cent of them saw an increase in sales, and most of them – 57 per cent – are expecting an increase in employees.”
Twenty per cent expect to expand their operations, Cyrenne said.
“I wasn't surprised that there was growth projected and expected going forward, but I was surprised at the sheer number of how much businesses in this sector are growing, and the demand that they have for qualified employees,” said Cyrenne.
They would like to see more training opportunities so that they can hire more qualified people, he said.
Several recurring concerns did come up during the interviews: the lack of available land, the infrastructure deficiencies in Estevan, particularly with the roads; the cost of living and doing business; and a shortage of entertainment options.
“Some of the issues that they expressed regarding the City revolved around wanting to see long-term planning in place, increased signage throughout the community, and the infrastructure,” said Cyrenne.
Respondents were happy with the improvements to Souris Avenue North, but they feel a lot of work remains for other roads. And they're frustrated with the length of time needed to complete the Leisure Centre's parking lot project.
Many have had difficulties finding skilled employees, Cyrenne said, and have had to hire, at best, mid-level employees.
But there is still a lot of optimism about the community among the respondents, Cyrenne said. They're pleased to see that the community is growing, the economic is diverse, the business community is generous and the residents are friendly.
Policing and fire services received a lot of good feedback, too, Cyrenne said, and there is growing satisfaction with snow removal.
Cyrenne said respondents were also happy with Affinity Place, the support shown for Estevan's new nursing home fundraising initiative, the plans to build a new truck route north of Estevan and the 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games coming to Estevan.
Cyrenne said the chamber will continue to closely monitor the survey's results to gauge where they're heading in terms of economic development, and the chamber will bring the respondents' concerns to the City to get some feedback.