News We're Following for the Week of December 26-30, 2016

Tax cut benefits small businesses - Government of Alberta
Hello 2017, goodbye door-to-door energy sales - Government of Alberta

Business Beat: Remember the importance of marketing in a down economy

Part of living and working in a boom/bust economy is the inevitable and temporary downturn. Sadly, one of the first things to go in these leaner times is marketing budgets. However, by thinking long term, careful investment in marketing will ultimately assist your company bounce back as the economy improves. Consumers do not stop spending all together when the economy shifts, they just spend differently, so any dramatic shift from your strategic marketing plan will cause your business to miss an opportunity. For larger brands, a down economy is the perfect time to get back to basics in terms of service offerings and build a campaign that focuses on a central idea that connects each marketing initiative. When it comes to smaller brands, a down economy gives you the opportunity to respond by growing your brand awareness with tremendous additional visibility. It also allows you to be more innovative in your messaging by following a more integrated approach to promoting your brand. Business owners and managers feel that if they are laying off staff, investing in marketing would be “bad optics.” This is the farthest thing from the truth. When under attack and your market share is eroding, now is the time to put up a marketing fight of your life to ensure your company survives. Companies that invest in their brand when things are less-than-ideal benefit exponentially when things are good, so a proper strategic marketing plan is crucial to navigating any rough times your business is wading through. Read More...

Member 2 Member Discount: Hell's Basement

Grab some cold beer from Hell's Basement brewery taproom for your New Year's Eve party! Show your tag tag and receive 10% off of beverages and merchandise!

New Member: J.M. McNaught & Associates Ltd

J. M. McNaught & Associates Ltd. is a Canadian owned and operated company providing engineering services for clientele within the City of Medicine Hat, Alberta and surrounding area, including Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Our engineering and consulting services focus on understanding your requirements and setting strategies for your facility to satisfy your business needs. J.M. McNaught can help diagnose problems, identify ways to improve performance and transform concepts into flexible practical solutions that can lead to better productivity and capital utilization. J.M. McNaught is focused on providing accurate Electrical Service Applications, Electrical Distribution, Lighting Applications and Fire Alarm Design & Verification.

Capital Investment Tax Credit and Alberta Investor Tax credit to launch in the New Year

Bill 30, the Investing in a Diversified Alberta Economy Act, received royal assent on Dec. 9, establishing two tax credits. The Capital Investment Tax Credit (CITC) will encourage timely capital investments that offer opportunities for economic growth. The Alberta Investor Tax Credit (AITC) will encourage investors to provide entrepreneurs with greater access to the capital they need to innovate and expand. The CITC will have four application intake periods, with the first beginning Jan.16, 2017 and ending Feb. 15, 2017.

Intake for the AITC will begin Jan. 16, 2017 and will remain open until the annual budget is allocated. Investments made as of April 14, 2016 may be retroactively eligible for the AITC. For more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit the CITC program and AITC program web pages. Read the Government of Alberta press release online.

WCB Update - December 15, 2016

On November 16 and 17, the WCB Panel had the pleasure of engaging nearly 100 stakeholders to discuss Alberta’s workers’ compensation system in greater detail. An array of employers, unions, employer and worker representatives, safety associations and industry associations participated at this engagement opportunity. There is now a What We Heard document available online. All of the input that gathered during the two days will be analyzed in detail and go “into the mix” – along with other listening, learning and research. It’s clear that the WCB Panel has to do a lot more work, including looking at how other jurisdictions may have addressed these issues/suggestions in their workers’ compensation systems, and how well those approaches work. All of this will be used to inform their thinking as they turn their attention to developing recommendations in the New Year. In the meantime, the panel will be hosting other engagement opportunities between now and the end of January 2017 – including the “Trend Talks” and a data symposium. The Panel will also continue to receive submissions. They had previously indicated that they would accept submissions until January 3, 2017. However, recognizing that the holiday break may make it harder for people to provide input, they have decided to extend the date. So if you have additional thoughts that you haven’t yet shared, please feel free to submit your input by January 9, 2017. Contact information is available on the WCB review panel website

Member 2 Member Discount: Daylight Electric

Getting new lights for Christmas?? Show your key tag at Daylite Electric and get 10% off the labor!

Business Beat: From the ground to the growler

Last year at this time, Medicine Hat was the only major Alberta city without a craft brewery. With last weekend’s opening of the Medicine Hat Brewing Company, we can now count two. Both Hell’s Basement Brewery and Medicine Hat Brewing Company invested in this community, creating business opportunities and employment. Along the way, they seized on Medicine Hat’s local lore and have led a resurgence in community pride. Both groups are excellent examples of spotting a business opportunity and capitalizing on it. In this case, a small change in provincial legislation removed a barrier that made it difficult for microbreweries to operate in Alberta. Since that barrier was removed, more than 50 new breweries have opened across Alberta. And that presents new business opportunities for the right person. According to an American report, microbreweries make up 5.7 per cent of that country’s beer production, but consume nearly 18 per cent of the malt, which is derived from barley. It stands to reason that a similar ratio exists in Canada. Alberta’s barley is well-known for its quality, and currently produces half of Canada’s malt exports. A malt house in Medicine Hat would certainly be kept busy. It wouldn’t be a capital-intensive business to set up and would give local and provincial microbreweries an alternative to importing malt from elsewhere. Read More

Member News: Something Techy IT Solutions has MOVED

Come check us out at our new location #124 640 3rd St SE inside the 640 Professional Building. Same great service, new location!

Federal government floats trial balloon re: taxing employer-provided benefits

The federal government is contemplating taxing employer provided health and dental benefits as described in this December 2 article from the National Post. Today, Quebec and B.C. are the only jurisdictions in Canada that tax these benefits with the result (according to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association) that 15-20% of SME employers reduced or eliminated their employee coverage. According to the Conference Board of Canada, 13.5 million Canadians have health and dental benefits from their employers that are not taxed. The costs are typically between $2,400 to $4,000 per full-time employee (more if you have a family). If these became taxable benefits, employees would be hit with a tax bill of $800 to $1,200 (or more depending on their marginal tax rate). Taxing health and dental benefits makes it less attractive for employers (particularly SMEs) to offer such plans for several reasons. These can range from the administrative complexities and added expense of some employees opting not to subscribe to employer-paid benefits if they are taxable, to increased Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance premiums if benefits are added to employees’ taxable income. Finance Canada has said no decisions have been made yet. The employee-sponsored health care tax exemption is being scrutinized as part of a sweeping review of 150 tax credits. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce wants to know what you think about the effects of taxing employer-provided benefits. Please email either Hendrik Brakel or Susanna Cluff-Clyburne who will ensure your views are shared with the federal government.