Deputy Mayor Robert Bouchard believes Hay River can be proud of its small-business sector.
“I think Hay River has always prided itself on the fact that we have a small-business sector here in the community,” he said. “I want to say it’s almost a rarity in the Northwest Territories.”
While the NWT is becoming more and more dependent on government, Bouchard noted Hay River’s small businesses give people other options for different work.
“It definitely creates jobs in the community,” he said. “It spends the money in the community. Those businesses tend to support other local businesses. So that money gets circulated round and round in the community multiple times before it leaves the community any time.”
As for what makes Hay River a good place for business, the deputy mayor said it is one of the most southern communities in the NWT, which means lower cost for goods and services.
“I think it’s just become a place for people to be,” he said.
Bouchard noted there have always been businesses that have thrived in Hay River and the sector is still strong, even though it’s getting tougher for business as costs keep going up.
The deputy mayor noted the entrepreneurial spirit in Hay River is encouraged by people seeing others in the community doing well by working for themselves.
“You might have to work more hours, but it’s more satisfactory,” he said. “Your boss is a great guy most of the time, if you own a business.”
Bouchard himself is in business with his main company being Expert Auctioneering.
“I enjoy doing it,” he said.
And he noted that, like many businesspeople in Hay River, he has diversified to a variety of services.
“You’re not doing the same thing every day,” he said. “It’s not a repetitiveness. It’s very interesting.”
While other levels of government offer programs for small businesses, the Town of Hay River’s main impact on the sector is through taxes.
“We’re trying to maintain them as much as we can from the municipality’s perspective,” said Bouchard.
The Town of Hay River does have an economic development officer to help businesses.