Gillespie updates chamber on economic development

·6 min read

Moosomin Economic Development Officer Greg Gillespie provided an update to the Moosomin Chamber of Commerce on what he has been working on.

During his presentation, Gillespie shared with members of the chamber the importance of economic growth and development in Moosomin.

“Our task and mandate is to generate economic activity and bring new businesses here to grow the population, grow the tax base and grow the town. There are a couple of ways to do that like the large-scale projects we hope to nail down and the large-scale projects could be manufacturing or processing. They’re obviously part of a lot longer of a time frame. Most of those large projects are three to four years out. These things don’t happen overnight,” said Gillespie.

“There’s other levels of economic development. They could be bringing new services to the town where we think we may be lacking. There is another level where we help our businesses grow and provide marketing plans for any ideas that the townspeople might have. There’s a full range of what we try to get done.”

Gillespie explained that Moosomin has been fortunate to have the strong economy that it has, with a variety of large-scale construction projects surrounding the town bringing in no shortage of workers that spend their money in Moosomin.

Gillespie also noted several demographic trends that will be impacting Moosomin in the coming years, which he says is another reason to invest in economic development despite an already strong economy.

“Some people ask the question of why we need to do economic development. We’re a vibrant town and we seem to be doing okay, so why do we need to invest in economic development. There are a couple of thoughts on that. My take on that is that if you’re not actively growing the market, you’re leaving your future in the hands of fate. Moosomin has been very lucky over the last dozen years, we’ve landed a lot of major, contract-based projects that have people filling our hotels and our restaurants.”

Gillespie explained that while Moosomin may only have a population of just under 3,000, there are 55,000 people within a 100 kilometre radius of the town.

He says that this another reason for investment in the community, noting that Moosomin can act as a hub for smaller surrounding communities.

“If we decide we want to be the hub for the area we have large enough of a population to support that hub. What surprised me is that when I compared our population to other hub towns like Estevan or Melfort, Estevan’s 100 kilometre radius population is 45,000, so they actually have less to draw from than we do. Melfort, who just got a CT scanner that we’ve been fighting for half a dozen years, Melfort’s 100 Kilometre radius is 19,000, a fraction of what we have here.”

Gillespie also noted two trends that have already had impacts on the economy in Moosomin, explaining that both online shopping as well as out of town ownership of businesses is preventing money from being spent in Moosomin.

He says that with out-of-town ownership, the revenue brought in by the businesses is not returned to the community as it would be with an in-town owner.

He also says that online shopping has become a trend through the COVID-19 pandemic, and residents are spending their money online as opposed to in town.

Gillespie was given an opportunity to share some of his current projects, listing off a variety of services he has been working to bring into Moosomin. These services include sleep apnea, mental health and addiction services, foot doctors, optometrists, a CT scanner, a packing plant, a crop research farm, ag processing, a fertilizer plant, lithium mining, greenhouses, and various other services that Moosomin lacks.

He also says that energy services would also help to draw in additional industries to Moosomin.

Gillespie was also able to share some of his successes, noting the Tiny Dancers group as one of his recent accomplishments.

After the closing of UDance, Gillespie says parents had to find lessons elsewhere for their kids, but after some looking around he approached Kari Kosier of Kari’s Kloset who agreed to start a new club which has seen success.

“We had 35 parents every week during dance season taking their kids and leaving for Grenfell or Redvers or wherever it happened to be, doing their grocery shopping there and buying their gas there. If it was $100 per visit, that’s $100,000 in the community lost just like that.

“I phoned about a dozen dance studios in the area to see if they wanted to put something in Moosomin but we couldn’t get a hit and nobody was interested because of COVID. So I looked at it from another angle and we decided to get a parents group started but then I went to Kari’s Kloset and I gave them the idea and they ran with it. They started up the idea and the dance studio and now have around 65 kids and they are looking to hire another dance teacher and expand next year.”

He also noted Sun Country Hearing as another successful business and service that was brought to Moosomin through the Economic Development Committee.

“A couple of months ago we were able to entice an audiologist in the community and she came to set up shop just down in the provincial court building. She’s doing very well to the point where she’s booked three weeks out and she’s trying to find resources to open up another day out of the week,” said Gillespie.

Gillespie says there will also be a second law firm being brought to Moosomin. After reaching out to several firms, Gillespie says the Economic Development Committee was able to secure interest from Bridges & Company LLP.

“You do need a second legal firm in town especially for a town of our size. I contacted 18 lawyers representing eight law firms and had a couple interested from one and components from two, but one from Estevan, Bridges & Company LLP, decided that they wanted to set up shop here.”

Gillespie also teased a new retailer making its way to Moosomin, however, he says is unable to share any details at this time.

“We have an announcement to make in the next four weeks about a fairly major retailer that this town has needed forever,” he said.

Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator

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