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Abbotsford earns two honours

Abbotsford will receive two major awards in the coming week.

Today, the Vancouver Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) will name Abbotsford the Most Business Friendly City in B.C. for 2011.

On Oct. 27, the BC Aviation Council will present the Abbotsford International Airport with its William Templeton Trophy, awarded annually for outstanding initiative and achievement in the successful development of a community airport.

Today’s award – called the NAME Awards (NAIOP Award for Municipal Excellence) – marks the first time the association has recognized top performers in their annual municipal report card.

Abbotsford earned the honour due in part to its implementation of a five-year staggered tax incentive program for commercial and industrial development which encourages new investment.

“It’s reassuring when what you are doing is being recognized by outside groups,” said Abbotsford Mayor George Peary.

The city’s recent economic development and planning services statistical report shows building permit values in the city rose for the third year in a row. As of the end of September 2011, building permits had just reached the $222 million mark compared to $207 million in 2010 and $156.5 million in 2009.

Employment figures in the Abbotsford CMA (Census Metropolitan Area) are also on the rise. At the end of August 2011, the labour force hit 95,900, compared to 95,200 in 2010 and 93,400 in 2009. However, the unemployment rate also grew to 8.2 per cent so far in 2011, as compared to eight per cent in 2010 and 7.9 per cent in 2009.

Despite the global economic concerns, Peary said compared to other parts of the world, Canada and B.C. have done well.

“Abbotsford is a good place to live and a good place to do business ... the hospital, the university, the airport – it’s all part of the Abbotsford package,” said Peary.

Next week, representatives from the Abbotsford International Airport will accept the William Templeton Trophy from the BC Aviation Council in recognition of recent improvements made to the local facility. According to the council, Abbotsford “is an outstanding example of how multiple levels of government working with the airport’s board and staff can completely transform a regional airport in a stunning 15-month period.”

The local airport has steadily grown into the largest secondary airport in Canada, with more than 460,000 passenger movements per year. The renovation project has positioned Abbotsford towards its goal of attracting new airline routes and accommodating over two million passengers per year by 2025.

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