Dixon sees great potential in local economy
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.