If this list came out in a magazine in July, why has it taken this long to be picked up by PEI media?

Charlottetown ranks No. 2 city for business in survey by Canadian Business magazine

DAVE STEWART

Efforts by a number of groups and organizations to develop and expand Charlottetown’s business sector appear to be paying off.
In its July issue, Canadian Business magazine selected the P.E.I. capital the second-best place in the country in which to do business of the 40 cities surveyed.
When people think of Prince Edward Island, they normally come up with images like Anne of Green Gables, lobster, golf, potatoes and sandy beaches.
Ron Atkinson, the city’s economic development officer, says Charlottetown is quickly becoming known for much more than that —biotechnology, information technology, software creation, financial services and video-game development.
The Halifax-based consulting firm KPMG has let it be known for quite some time that Charlottetown is a cost-efficient city in which to do business but it is taking time for word to spread.
Atkinson said the city’s ranking with Canadian Business magazine’s shows the hard work is paying off.
“The message this sends out is that this is not the City of Charlottetown’s success story, it’s everybody’s success story,” Atkinson said in a recent interview.
What he means is that it would be a mistake to assume all the hard work is being done by city staff.
More than once Atkinson says the credit rests at the feet of a lot of organizations and groups — Downtown Charlottetown Inc., the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, ACOA, the city corporation along with the provincial and federal governments.
Each group, he says, is responsible in its own way for attracting and developing business in the city’s core and in the amalgamated areas.
Coun. Peter McCloskey, chair of economic development, says to understand why Charlottetown is ranked No. 2 in Canada all people need to do is look around.
The city councillor points to examples like the new Ceridian building currently under construction beside City Hall, the new Jean Canfield federal government building, bioscience companies at UPEI and in the Charlottetown Airport industrial park, the new Trimark building on Euston Street and the Atlantic Technology Centre.
And, whether directly or indirectly related, there has been growth in residential living (i.e. new condominiums), streetscape projects, a new grocery store and entertainment options such as the ever-growing Festival of Lights and concerts like Aerosmith.
“We’re open for business, it’s that simple,” McCloskey said. “Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the forest and not notice things that are happening here.”
Ron Waite, general manager of CADC, says the ranking proves businesses are buying into the concept that Charlottetown is a cost-effective location.
“There’s a lot of effort being put into making the most of our natural competitive advantages and quality of life,” Waite said.
Ron Keefe, CEO of Diagnostic Chemicals Ltd., says the Island’s close proximity to major eastern seaboard markets such as Boston and New York is a definite plus.
Atkinson says Charlottetown has the highest building-permit growth — from $42 million in 2002 to $122 million in 2005 — the third-lowest operating costs and the sixth-lowest cost of living of the cities surveyed.
Atkinson says it’s not all good news.
More business people working in the city will tax an already problematic parking situation and the retail industry continues to be an issue in the downtown core.
“No question, there are challenges,” Atkinson says.

(With files from
Canadian Business magazine)

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