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Hinton is proactive on investment

Masha Scheele

Council got its first look at the opportunities available in Hinton for future investors.

A pitch deck highlighting Hinton’s economic state was presented at the regular council meeting on Sept. 3 by Scott Kovatch, Hinton’s economic development officer. 

The focus of the information presented was to enhance the quality and diversity of retail  experiences and personal services that Hinton has access to.

Based on a 2018 Alberta census the town of Hinton had a population of 10,380, which is expected to grow to 10,880 by 2028, Kovatch explained.

The report also stated that the population of the retail trade area, which is the geographic area that a retail store draws from, would grow from 36,872 in 2018 to 40,139 by 2028.

Kovatch went on to detail a short list of important information which would help potential investors make business based decisions.

“Specifically important to our trade area, is when we look at the average household income in Hinton, $120,751. That’s at least ten per cent higher than Edson and Whitecourt, which are communities that we use as comparators,” he said.

Spending habits based on the average disposable income, which will be made available to the public on the Hinton website help identify consumer leakage.

“If we were to attract new businesses this would allow them to understand how much money they would be able to extract based on their share of the market,” said Kovatch.

He explained that supportable retail space refers to the amount of opportunity that actually exists in our community and that certain areas are underrepresented.

As an example, he explained that Auto/RV/Motorsports Dealerships in Hinton only retain 20 per cent of the market share, which means that 80 per cent is lost to outside sources.

“If we were putting together a target list for investment opportunity for businesses that exist here that want to grow their portfolio or investment from outside that would be an area to target,” he said.

According to the report, the total supportable demand in Hinton is estimated at 645,000 square feet excluding auto and health care, and currently the retained market share of trade area spending is estimated at just over 40 per cent.

Over the next decade as the population grows, demand in trade area is expected to grow 20 square feet per capita, which would equal 66,426 square feet of new space.

This information can be used to see how much space is available for competitors to come into.

“That helps us market our community, and helps us communicate to those possible investors what market share they could capture,” said Kovatch.

Some of the community characteristics included in the report are the median age in 2016, which was 37.2; the individual and household income in Hinton, which is higher among comparators; the median value of dwellings in Hinton is lower when compared to the county and Alberta, which means more disposable income than average; the higher participation rate regarding the working population, which is combined with a low unemployment rate; 91 per cent of workers in Hinton live in town; and by 2016, 46 per cent of Hinton’s labour force had a postsecondary degree, diploma or certificate.

The proximity of Hinton to the Jasper National Park is also included in the report, showing an increase in tourists visiting and 1,200 hotel beds currently available.

When presenting the report to investors, the business districts are divided into the valley business district, the trans-canada highway, and hill-downtown shopping area.

Kovatch will use this report as a tool at the international shopping centre convention (ICS) in January, where he will talk to specific investors about the opportunities available in Hinton.

He has used this document four times already and received positive feedback from site selectors and developers.

“They’re telling me that based on our community’s size in the range of ten to twenty thousand, we are at this point in time, probably the most proactive community when it comes to investment profiles in Alberta,” said Kovatch.