Richmond is fortunate to have a strong local economy.
A superior location, including being home to both an international airport and deep-sea port facilities, proximity to Vancouver and the U.S. border and being a gateway to the Asia Pacific, combine to give us a natural advantage in attracting business and trade.
We also constantly strive to create a business-friendly climate and offer the services and the civic amenities that make Richmond both a great place to live and do business. This proactive approach has helped us lure some major new employers, including Canada Post's Western Canadian distribution service which will employ 2,000 workers when it opens next year.
Our success in economic development was recognized in 2011 when Richmond was ranked in the top 10 in the first "American Cities of the Future" list compiled by Foreign Direct Investment Magazine.
Richmond was selected for its combination of strategic location which, coupled with our strong business climate and local business-friendly policies, creates a vibrant economic structure recognized across the continent.
Council members are very cognizant of the important role that economic development plays in the City's financial sustainability and economic well being. A healthy economy produces jobs and promotes investment and spending that benefits our entire community. New growth also helps fund the cost of upgrading and renewing civic services and infrastructure.
As a city, we are continually striving to focus on economic development. Changing economic trends, competition and the evolving needs of business can all impact our success in attracting new business and retaining the businesses we have for the long-term, ensuring that, as they grow, they are able to do so in Richmond.
In order to achieve this, our Economic Development Office has just launched a comprehensive new business development initiative. It will enable Richmond businesses to seamlessly access the information and services offered by the city to meet their needs.
The new business development program involves a set of integrated initiatives and tools for engaging businesses and partners. At its heart is an annual business outreach campaign, where staff personally reach out to and support between 100 and 150 businesses in Richmond's strategic sectors per year.
The input we receive helps us tailor our programs to directly meet the needs local businesses have identified.
Council is particularly focused on building our local tourism industry.
From our successful sport hosting program, to creating a new tourist attraction in the Richmond Olympic Experience to continuing to develop Steveston as a tourist destination, council is committed to working with Tourism Richmond and our local business partners to further develop this sector.
Just this week, the city launched a new website specifically devoted to economic development at www. businessinrichmond.ca.
This website features comprehensive information on Richmond's business advantages, strategic sectors and quality of life.
The website also provides access to economic development and business liaison services for businesses that are based in or are looking to locate to Richmond.
Access to the latest local business indicators and a commercial facility search, are unique interactive features also on the new website. I encourage businesses to check out this useful new resource.
Richmond's future economic prospects are bright.
Our focused approach to economic development will make those prospects even brighter.