Business is the engine of the City’s economy. Businesses create jobs, build buildings, and pay one-third of our tax revenue.
It’s easy to take our business community for granted. But many businesses have the option to leave. Local businesses have a choice of thirteen other municipalities in the Northeast Avalon alone. Larger businesses can also move to other centres in Atlantic Canada. We need to stay competitive.
Staying competitive isn’t just a way to keep what we have. St. John’s can be a business destination, somewhere people relocate their businesses to.
Many of the business community’s needs are the same as other people’s. It’s good for business when St. John’s is an artistic and cultural centre [See: Arts]; when it’s inclusive and accessible [See: Inclusion, Accessibility]; when its neighbourhoods are attractive and livable [See: Real Neighbourhoods, Green Space, Parks, and Access to Nature]. It’s bad for business when we let spending get out of control [See: Spending] or when we fail to control urban nuisances [See: Litter, Motorcycle Noise].
The business community also have some distinctive concerns [See Development Approval Process], or some distinctive perspectives on shared issues [See Spending]. I will listen carefully to the business community’s concerns, and help St. John’s become a business destination.
Some people see municipal politics as a conflict between pro-development, pro-business interests and anti-development progressives. I think that’s outdated and unhelpful. The interests of our business community are fundamentally aligned with a progressive vision for our city.
Progressive priorities like inclusivity, public transit, real neighbourhoods, and investing in the arts are essential to attract and retain workers and to expand and diversify our local economy. The business community are essential allies in building an adequate supply of affordable and acceptable housing, putting vacant urban spaces to use, and building a new, more inclusive culture.
The adversarial narrative about business and the arts has always seemed particularly strange to me. As a musician and arts administrator, I’ve always seen the arts community as part of the business community. As a performer and music teacher, I ran my own business. As an arts administrator, I worked on artistic projects alongside entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants, etc. The arts community is deeply connected to the rest of the business community.