With an easy 20 minute highway commute to the Nation’s capital, picturesque waterfront and historic downtown, it’s easy to see why so many people choose Carleton Place to hang out their shingle. So why is 2017 your year? Do you have a “can’t be beat” business idea? Franchise? Then let’s discuss why this community is the perfect fit for you.
There are many key things to consider when choosing a location for your new business. First let’s discuss style. This is the look and feel of the physical space of your business and how it compliments what you do. If you’re looking for a traditional retail store or service office Carleton Place as many options. There are beautiful heritage buildings, with space that includes hardwood, exposed brick and tin ceilings. There are also bright, modern professional spaces and nearly every option in between. While the town does not boost an indoor mall for a kiosk or booth there are a number of strip malls with modern styled office and retail space as well as outdoor summer markets depending on your business plan. Maybe you work from home? Or telecommute? What better way to appreciate the conveniences of fast and reliable Internet service, cultural and recreational opportunities, restaurants and shops carrying everything from housewares and building supplies to business supplies and electronics.
Next on the list of things to consider is no surprise, Demographics. Businesses must consider their customer profiles and understand what the local market wants. A number of informal online surveys conducted by our Discover Carleton Place Facebook page shed light on some local wish list items for residents. If you are considering 2017 as the year to start a venture of your own in Carleton Place some common resident “wants” include a cinema, an indoor children’s play land, ethnic food, Men’s Clothing store, Athletic and Sports apparel, shoes and lingerie. These market gaps are echoed in the 2011 Downtown Corridor study completed by Doyletech Corporation. That study cited a lack of Men’s apparel, outdoor lifestyle equipment and hobby-recreation store to serve the retiree community. Additionally the study noted that Carleton Place lacked a common family restaurant and quick luncheon-type eatery as well as current pop-culture entertainment such as a movie theatre. It is not however just about supporting the needs of local shoppers, the addition of cultural and entertainment opportunities will create pedestrian traffic, browsers and tourists.
Carleton Place is almost always discussed in the context of its proximity to Ottawa but let’s not discount the large rural populations and neighbouring small towns for whom this town is the source of big city needs outside the capital. Retail giants like Walmart and Home Depot pull from towns like Almonte and Perth who don’t have a nearer access for these popular “big box” stores. Some shoppers travel out of the city to visit those same stores in Carleton Place to avoid traffic, parking frustrations and over-crowding and a nicer shopping experience.
You must also consider if the community has a stable economic base. According to Deputy Mayor, Jerry Flynn, Carleton Place has stable tax rates, long range development plans and staff to avoid major financial pitfalls, all the amenities to complement successful business and encourage long range investment. Add to that consistent population growth and you have a recipe for business success.
Other demographic considerations include a local skilled workforce, resources and also community culture and amenities. These elements are important as you want the community to also be an appealing place for your own family and that of your potential employees. Carleton Place is a beautiful community rich in local history and punctuated by the breathtaking Mississippi River. It is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with dozens of local trails, water sports and championship hockey. It is home to world-class broomball, 16 play grounds, outdoor ice rinks, one of the country’s oldest canoe clubs, curling, Softball nearly every night of the week when it’s in season and so much more! There are community events monthly, play groups and accessible family services. It also has public, Catholic, French Catholic and Private schools, affordable housing and a community centre teaming with activities. It is an ideal community to raise a family with the amenities of a city and the charm of a small town. Greg Smith, a local entrepreneur (GHS Enterprise), says “For me it is a choice for “home life” –Running my own business when not at a Client’s site I’m able to enjoy the area with breaks from work as well as when “I come home from work” quick accessible nature alternatives. The ease of access to all businesses in the Ottawa area is incredible with our four lane highway. When I have a meeting in Toronto I can access the train twenty minutes away in Smith Falls. Our Hospital is second to none with top notch service. ALL the essential service are right here from tech help to conference facilities and all levels of luncheon business development presence. And last but not least the business community is generally supportive with the Chamber of Commerce being one of the best per capita Chambers in the Country, in my opinion.”
Next on the list, Foot Traffic. This of course is industry-specific but there are retail opportunities along Bridge St in the heart of the town that can fit the foot traffic bill. If your customer profile is not set on strolling then there are some gorgeous and very affordable lease options in the Dunlop Industrial park off Townline Rd or on Bennett St that also have ample free parking. This brings us to number 4; Accessibility and parking. As a business you will need to consider how your customers, employees and suppliers access your location. If you have large deliveries can a large truck, cart, crate enter your space? Is there accommodation for persons with mobility issues? Your specific need will of course be specific to your business model but needs to be considered. While gorgeous, older buildings can have disadvantages in terms of doorway width and absence of ramps or elevators. Again, Carleton Place offers the charming older retail spaces in addition to more modern settings that are more accessible. There are opportunities to update and retrofit older facilities to have the best of both worlds so ask those questions to the property owner.
Competition can be a positive and a negative for a fledgling business. Traditionally seeing another business with a competing product or service in your area might deter a similar business from opening. However, there can be a benefit when it comes to the overflow from an existing business or from patrons comparison shopping. Carleton Place has many business and services that complement one another and you’ll find fewer communities with such a collaborative business spirit. From the Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce, Valley Heartland, Downtown Carleton Place and the town itself, you’ll find support for your new business. There are funding initiatives, training, networking events and many incentives like the Chamber’s “Member 2 Member” program that encourage businesses to support one another. Many local community events invite and encourage local business owners to get involved and you’ll find at least a dozen large community events throughout the year that not only promote the town as a place for fun and recreation but also a place to shop.
In a community that stands on the precipice of 2-5 years of accelerated development now is the time to act. With nearly 1000 new residences coming in the next 12-18 months, a plan to expand the local Emergency Room, bring in additional “big Box” named brand retailers 2017 is the best time to get your foot in the door.