Dixon sees great po­ten­tial in lo­cal econ­omy

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Matthew Gourlie

The City of Moose Jaw’s new Man­ager of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Jim Dixon won’t need any time to get up to speed.

Dixon has held the po­si­tion on an in­terim ba­sis since July of 2017. On Nov. 8, the City an­nounced Dixon has se­cured the po­si­tion full-time af­ter what City Man­ager Jim Puf­falt called a search across North Amer­ica.

Dixon is ex­cited to carry on the work he has started in the past 18 months.

“There have been lots of projects that have been started that we’re try­ing to get across the fin­ish line. So that’s been ex­cit­ing. The po­ten­tial is there for so many good projects and sev­eral new projects have come along,” Dixon said.

Dixon served as a city coun­cil­lor for three terms from 1982-91 and has worked many years in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. He was the re­gional enterprise man­ager for Enterprise Saskatchewan, the re­gional de­vel­op­ment co­or­di­na­tor for Saskatchewan Enterprise and In­no­va­tion/Re­gional Eco­nomic and Co-op­er­a­tive De­vel­op­ment and was also a strate­gic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer for Moose Jaw Re­gional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity.

Dixon is a big be­liever in the city and feels Moose Jaw’s econ­omy can best be served by play­ing to its strengths.

“We’re try­ing to fo­cus on what the strengths are of our city and our re­gion and not try­ing to do ev­ery­thing for ev­ery­body, but re­ally tar­get spe­cific ar­eas that we know we can ex­cel in,” Dixon said. “One of the things we talk about is our com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages. We have the low­est per capita tax rate when you look at both com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial.” Dixon feels that Moose Jaw’s lo­ca­tion lends it­self well to trans­porta­tion projects and that hav­ing a strong agri­cul­tural sec­tor in the area is also one of the re­gion’s chief sell­ing points.

While Saskatchewan’s re­source-based econ­omy is still re­gain­ing its foot­ing, there are plenty of com­pa­nies and re­gions look­ing to in­vest and ex­pand. “There is a great deal of in­ter­est from for­eign in­vestors. Monthly, I’m deal­ing with del­e­ga­tions that are look­ing at op­por­tu­ni­ties in Moose Jaw and our re­gion,” Dixon said. “Our lo­ca­tion is re­ally strong. The No. 1 high­way and the No. 2 high­way and provin­cially. We have both rail­ways ser­vic­ing the city. We have the Soo Line that goes di­rectly to Chicago. Those are huge as­sets. Our trans­porta­tion, ware­hous­ing and distri­bu­tion, there are lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties around that.

“There is also a lot around agri­cul­ture. We’re in a good time zone. We can do busi­ness in both di­rec- tions in a mean­ing­ful way. Our tourism is very strong ob­vi­ously. We have an in­cred­i­ble his­tory. We have a unique down­town which dif­fer­en­ti­ates us from other com­mu­ni­ties. We’re the envy of many ar­eas. We want to build on those things and build on our strengths.” Dixon added that the “eco­nomic cor­ri­dor” be­tween Moose Jaw and Regina also pro­vides a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties in man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vic­ing.

While for­eign in­vest­ment can help spark growth, Dixon said that the numbers show that keep­ing your es­tab­lished lo­cal in­dus­tries and busi­ness strong and grow­ing is vi­tal.

“We’re work­ing closely with a lot of our ex­ist­ing busi­nesses and in­dus­try to help them grow and ex­pand,” Dixon said. “Seventy-five per cent of all busi­ness growth and in­crease in jobs in a com­mu­nity and tax base is based on ex­ist­ing com­pa­nies grow­ing. So that’s a big area we look at.”

Dixon is pleased with how the lo­cal re­tail sec­tor has been able to con­tinue grow­ing through some tough eco­nomic times.

“While the econ­omy is go­ing to con­tinue to grow with oil and gas and min­ing and things like that, we still have some good strengths,” he said. “We have a vi­brant re­tail/ser­vice sec­tor here with the new de­vel­op­ments around Civic Cen­tre Plaza and on Thatcher Drive. There is some good growth hap­pen­ing. Moose Jaw seems to be able to weather the storm fairly well.” While Dixon said he is al­ways try­ing to get new projects off the ground and other projects started -- he said grow­ing the econ­omy never stops -- he is ex­cited about some things that have been re­cently fi­nal­ized. “There’s go­ing to be some re­ally good news com­ing in the next cou­ple of months here,” Dixon said.

Jim Dixon has been named the City of Moose Jaw’s full-time man­ager of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

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