Orangeville hosts annual economic outlook breakfast

October 27, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

The Town of Orangeville, teaming up with TD Bank Group, hosted its annual economic outlook breakfast, adding a new feature where local business owners shared their insights into the state of the local economy.

The annual event took place Tuesday (October 17) at Orangeville’s Best Western hotel, to celebrate Small Business Month in Orangeville and Canada’s national Small Business Week.

The keynote speaker was Derek Burleton, TD Vice-President and deputy Chief Economist, who has been speaking at the breakfast for several years now.

He provided an analysis of the Canadian economy and financial markets, as well as the economic and financial developments to Dufferin County’s economy.

Mr. Burleton discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, the planned rise in Ontario’s minimum wage, and the federal Liberals’ recent announcement of plans to cut the small business tax by nine per cent, and how all three are concerns for growth in the coming year.

He says that in the past year, Ontarians have been spending like “gangbusters,” but he expects that to change, and 2018 “will be a tough act to follow.”

Mr. Burleton explained that he’s fine with a gradual increase of the minimum wage, but come 2018, when Ontario’s  goes up to $14 an hour, the huge increase comes “at a time when the economy will be facing other pressures.”

He says the election of U.S. President Donald Trump “shook up the establishment” along with the recent talk of America wanting to leave NAFTA.

Mr. Burleton says he thinks the low inflation and interest rates will pick up soon, and though it creates a good environment and growth, “there’s always something to worry about.”

New to this year’s event was a panel of local business owners discussing their experiences and opinions of the county’s economy. They were Paul Nelson, of Data Cable Co. Inc., Buddy Pitt, from Orangeville’s Home Hardware Building Centre, and Margorie Grime, with Royal LePage RCR Realty.

All three discussed the challenges they face in their business sector.

Mr. Pitt says Orangeville is a great place to be, and loves how uniquely the Town helps local businesses, but finds a challenge in retail with the Internet.

Ms. Grime says the housing market has gone from a “buyers’ market, to a sellers’ market,” and there are currently lower and fewer offers on houses.

Mr. Nelson says the biggest challenge for marketing is digital technology, as “it’s in every industry.”

All three were asked how they are successful in their business.

Ms. Grime says the real estate industry is a “more team concept” today, to make it easier for one to balance time between work and having a life.

Mr. Pitt attributes his success to “simply people,” as “products are the same everywhere… we recognize the retail industry is changing rapidly,” and a business needs to specialize and have a specific skill that adds value, otherwise it will be difficult to compete.

Mr. Nelson says customer focus and responsiveness, as they compete on a global basis, but quality is “job one.”

Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams spoke at the event, thanking everyone for attending, saying he is a “big proponent” of buying local.

He said he tries to keep grounded in technology, and advised businesses to “keep an open mind, don’t get left behind” and says he thinks they are on the verge of a technological revolution, which businesses need to “take note and take advantage” of some of those changes.

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