By Collin Gallant on October 13, 2017.
Building a new, modern economy, is the goal of Michael Klassen, who says his bid for a city council seat is the culmination of his lifelong interest in politics and concern about economic growth.
“I felt that it was time, personally, to get involved and I felt that there just wasn’t enough growth in the community,” said Klassen, who is one of 19 candidates seeking eight council seats in the general election on Oct. 16.
“I hope to lend my abilities to a group of like-minded individuals on the new council.”
Klassen grew up in Medicine Hat and operates a contracting company after returning to town with his wife following a career in broadcasting.
Already active in provincial and federal conservative political party politics, Klassen says getting involved at the local level is where he feels he can make an impact.
Klassen, a licensed carpenter, says the city should be aiming high to attract higher tech industry.
“There are some things that are out of our control … but we need to use what we have and really attract the next generation economy,” he said.
He says higher tech, transportation and advanced manufacturing, and other jobs are needed to replace those lost in the oil and gas sector.
“We need to look at things that we haven’t before, because natural gas is not coming back, and oil (production) is probably going to stay where it’s at.”
Other candidates in the race have said that work is already occurring. Incumbents have pointed to the work of Invest Medicine Hat — a private contractor that took over city economic development in 2015 — and announcements related to metal manufacturing and aerospace.
He said that comes after several years of work at the issue.
“That’s what we hear, but the proof is in the pudding,” said Klassen. “Perhaps there is a plan in place, but where are the benefits? What are the tweaks that are needed?”
He says Medicine Hat is attractive to new start-ups, but some incentives and a targeted promotions campaign are needed.
He supports continued subsidy of infrastructure rates paid by developers and a graduated tax rate for business start-ups.
“We have a phenomenal opportunity to grow the economy,” he said.
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