SASKATOON – Keep your town’s rich people contented so they will stay, says business consultant Alan Scharf.
But Scharf also took the opposite tack and urged rural businesses to pay their employees well, a tactic usually resisted by most chambers of commerce that prefer as low a minimum wage as possible.
Keeping people and their money in the town is the essence of his seemingly contradictory advice to a fall seminar of the Saskatchewan Council for Community Development.
“Whether for social or economic reasons, you want to get more local money staying in the community.”
Scharf said he believes business can be beneficial to a community and if it is rooted in a district, people in the area should help it stay.
Community development groups are able to do jointly what individuals cannot. Groups can raise capital, advertise special attributes and create loyalty.
Increase standard of living
He pointed out that good economic development brings jobs that can pay wages higher than the community average. Good development also creates jobs suitable for existing citizens. Finally, local ownership that respects a community’s values is important, he said. When businesses create a healthy environment for all ages, they raise standards of living and add new customers and stability for the companies.
Local support can also assist owners so they can sell their business in order to retire.
“In Saskatchewan, I found when the owner died, the business died.”
If people in the community aren’t rich enough to buy an existing business, then jobs and money are lost when the owner leaves or dies. Scharf urged business owners to develop a succession plan.
Scharf’s list for job jobs in the future include courier and personal services, knowledge-based consulting, health and elderly services, financial management, tourism and resource-based areas such as mining, forestry and mixed farming.