Adam McArthur
Executive Director,
Lesser Slave Lake



Phyllis Maki
General Manager,




Kevin Keller
General Manager,
Capital Region



Holly Sorgen
Executive Director,
Grande Praire and Region

Mediaplanet: What is the climate like to start a new business in Northern Alberta?

Adam McArthur: Northern Alberta has an entrepreneurial feel that is better experienced than spoken about. The presence of entrepreneurialism and small business in our community is very significant. It becomes a part of the local culture and is encouraged and cultivated through many different resources and the local, provincial and federal level. There is a market place for so many different services and trades in our communities, the opportunity for a new business to be successful leaps off the page when you arrive.

Kevin Keller: Extremely favorable. With the ongoing growth in the energy sector infrastructure and support services are showing great growth, you don’t need to work in the energy sector to benefit from its growth.

MP: What are some of the advantages of doing business in Northern Alberta?

Phyllis Maki: Alberta had an average personal disposable income of over $36,000 in 2009, the highest in Canada. Alberta consistently has the highest investment per capita in Canada. At $23,461 in 2011, it was more than double the Canadian average of $10,758 per capita. Alberta offers a 10% refundable provincial tax credit for scientific research and experimental development encouraging research and development here in Alberta. This is worth up to $400,000 annually per company. Alberta offers one of the most competitive business tax environments in North America - no provincial sales tax (PST), provincial capital taxes, payroll taxes or machinery and equipment taxes. Those are the biggest and best reasons in a nutshell.

Adam McArthur: A tax structure that is less burdensome on consumers and producers. A broad focus on self-reliance, understanding of how entrepreneurialism, and small business are vital to rural centres. Many people feel that our communities are underserviced and are looking for local solutions for their needs. A young population demographic in many communities are entering into their peak spending years and often have the disposable income to spend and want to provide a great experiences and activities for their young families.

MP: What is your top advice for people considering moving to the region?

Kevin Keller: This is not a “nanny state” if you want to move ahead you have to work for it. If you are good at what you do and you can maintain professional relationships you can succeed and faster than elsewhere in Canada.

Phyllis Maki: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Far too many people are hearing the streets are paved with gold (black) and running here without securing a place to live.  Not every community in the north has a negative occupancy rate like in my communities of Bonnyville and Cold Lake but there are hotspots where even finding a hotel room can be challenging. (How can we have a negative occupancy rate, well when there are no hotel rooms and nothing to rent people are staying in travel trailers in someone’s yard, sleeping on co-workers couches and floors and even sometimes in their vehicles)

For prospective business start-ups or purchases, it is the same thing. Make sure you have secured a site, make sure you can find the employees you are going to need and then ensure that they have somewhere to live as well.

Like I said, not every community is this tough, but still, do not move here without doing some research.

MP: How would you describe the community spirit in Northern Alberta?

Holly Sorgen: Northern Albertans are highly innovative, industrious and hardworking people.  When bad things happen, people step up to help.  We have extremely active Rotary clubs, United Way and Community Foundations that support the growth of our community.

Phyllis Maki: Community spirit in Northern Alberta is alive and strong. People here work hard and play hard. A multitude of cultures are respected and celebrated in most northern communities.  French and Ukrainian cultural centres can be found in many communities in the north along with an abundance of Aboriginal educational and historic sites.  People still believe in helping their neighbours and going the extra mile for others. There is real feeling of home and family.