Economic Development

  • Economic development can boost Local economies, create individual cost-savings, and promote reinvestment into smart-growth.13,16 Local economies are inclusive of all businesses in the area. These include businesses owned by local residents and chain or global businesses. The local economy is a network focusing on the economic activities that occur in a specific area (e.g., a community, town, city, rural main street).
  • Complete and healthy neighbourhood design supports economic development by increasing accessibility to amenities and services.27
  • Reinvestments into smart-growth design can result in long-term cost-savings in Infrastructure maintenance and delivery of services (e.g., public transit, school busing alternatives, waste collection, and emergency response).13,16,102,112,113
  • Economic recovery and diversification is unique for all communities. Priorities and recovery strategies are dependent on local and regional contexts and on available resources.102,113
  • Community economic development can help communities improve the quality of life for residents and strengthen the local economy through actions that align with community needs. These may include employment creation, commercial and industrial development, human resources and skills development.152

Economic development is important for supporting the financial health and wellbeing of communities and their residents. Economic development, including diversification of assets, can boost Local economies and promote reinvestment back into smart-growth approaches. Complete and healthy neighbourhood designs in turn improves people’s access to amenities and services, providing more opportunity for employment and revenue generation.

Example Criteria for Economic Development

What Infrastructure is available in the community to promote economic development (e.g., transportation, amenities, accessible design)?

Complete and healthy neighbourhood designs support economic development by increasing accessibility to amenities and services through adequate Infrastructure.27

How Equitable is the access to utilities for community residents (e.g., water, sanitation and hygiene, electricity, and internet)?

Equitable access to utilities ensures that every resident within the community has the same opportunity to meet their daily needs.

What is the proportion of franchise or Chain businesses compared to local businesses in the community?

Local retailers and small businesses are important in recirculating the local economy.114  When businesses are owned by local community members there are often more reinvestments back into the community, compared to those of chains or large retailers.153 Larger Chain businesses and retailers that dominate the retail market can come at the cost of Diverse businesses that include local or small business.

What social enterprises are available in the community?

Social enterprises are important to communities as they are a business with social objectives and purpose of reinvesting profits and revenue back into the community or the business.115 They work towards creating positive community changes and addressing social issues, ultimately reducing Social inequalities.

  Environmental Considerations

Increased active transportation (e.g., walking, wheeling, and biking) consumes less energy and contributes to lower air pollution.13 Investing in smart-growth design with increased accessibility to local amenities and services can reduce reliance on vehicles, in turn reducing emissions.

Economic recovery Considerations

Equitable access to broadband internet is a crucial utility, connecting individuals and creating opportunities to develop innovative global ways for working and living. Equitable access to reliable internet can boost community connection, enhance productivity and efficiency, and also can generate new types of employment.116

Pandemic Recovery Considerations

Local businesses play critical roles in Canada’s Economic recovery from COVID-19 through the creation of jobs.117 Local businesses provide income growth, employment growth, and have potential to decrease poverty in the local area.118 In British Columbia, a study found that local retailers recirculated 45% of the revenue compared to the 17% by chain retailers.119 COVID-19 recovery for both chain/franchise and local businesses will mean re-opening to regular capacity and operations thus re-employing and re-building the local economy.120

Did you know?

Small businesses have a big role. In Canada in 2020, small businesses made up 98% of all employer businesses, providing jobs for 64% of the total labour force – 9.7 million individuals.121

Key Economic Development Considerations for:

Consider the benefits of shopping at local destinations and businesses. How might access to nearby shops and services in a neighbourhood improve your quality of life and support economic growth in your community?

Consider the benefits and appeal of having local destinations and businesses nearby homes for different clients. What businesses are available, and desirable, for clients in different groups and life-stages (e.g., students, new parents, ethno-cultural communities, seniors)?

Consider the impact of chain and local businesses on the economy and incorporate designs and plans that attract and balance Diverse business types.

Consider important Infrastructure that promotes economic development in communities when developing land. What opportunities exist to improve the physical systems and services in the community during planning and development stages (e.g., transportation, access to utilities, complete design)?

Consider tax incentives or grant programs that allow for local businesses to compete with Chain businesses and proper Infrastructure that promotes economic development and growth of innovative businesses. For example, the Government of Alberta Innovation Employment Grant supports small and medium sized businesses that are investing in research and development, and promotes diversification in employment opportunities.122 This grant program works together with the Government of Alberta’s Job Creation Tax Cut, which includes small businesses in order to reduce the burden of job creation.123

Consider introducing local grant programs that have economic, accessibility, and aesthetic benefits like the City of Westakiwin’s Downtown and Automile Façade Improvement Grant.124 This matching grant opportunity aims to increase revenue for businesses and enhance the visual aesthetic of commercial buildings and streetscapes, while improving accessibility and barrier-free entrance for pedestrians.


Explore the other key factors