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Podcast #93: Alia Abbas Spills the Tea on the Importance of Small Businesses in Community Development

Business continuity and the pivotal role small businesses play in building strong, sustainable communities.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
3 min read
Podcast #93: Alia Abbas Spills the Tea on the Importance of Small Businesses in Community Development

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Episode 93 of the Econ Dev Show Podcast is out.

In the most recent episode of the Econ Dev Show podcast, Dane Carlson had the pleasure of interviewing Alia Abbas, former Economic Development Officer for the City of Toronto. Alia shared her experiences working with the city and the importance of understanding business continuity and how smaller, medium-sized businesses tend to have stronger ties to their community compared to larger corporations.

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One of the key takeaways from the episode was the importance of having a business continuity strategy in place. Alia emphasized that smaller businesses are the anchor of a community, and having a backup plan is crucial for businesses to avoid being the first to close or leave in the event of a disaster. She also touched on the importance of understanding a business's exit strategy and the role of economic developers in supporting businesses.

Dane and Alia delved into the concept of "employment lands" in Canada, which are areas designated for businesses to support economic development, create jobs, and provide a tax base. These lands are sometimes mixed-use, with businesses on the lower floors and residential units above. The conversation explored the balance between housing and businesses in these areas, as well as the importance of addressing the demands of businesses first to support community development.

Alia emphasized her role as an advocate for businesses, particularly small and family-owned businesses. Main Street businesses are vital for community development, as they bring creativity, culture, and a sense of community. These businesses often have ties to other countries or cultures, contributing to diverse neighborhoods that attract tourists. Alia noted that small businesses also have stronger ties to their communities, making them better advocates and champions for those communities.

Discussing the future of economic development, Alia highlighted the growing trend towards sustainability and greener economies. She emphasized the importance of making businesses more resilient to climate change and other disasters and aligning with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Dane agreed that historically, people moved to where they could earn a living and support their families, making businesses a key factor in community development.

For a deeper understanding of the topics discussed and to hear more from Alia Abbas, tune in to the full Econ Dev Show podcast episode.

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Dane Carlson Twitter

Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. Also: Sitehunt CEO and economic development consultant in Greater Houston, Texas.


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