Election day in Manitoba is now just over two weeks away.
Voters in Steinbach had the opportunity Tuesday evening to learn more about their city council candidates. The Steinbach Chamber of Commerce held an all candidates forum attracting about 175 people. Steinbach's three mayoral candidates and ten councillor candidates all took part.
When asked for his vision for the city, mayoral candidate Paul Neustaedter says Steinbach needs more jobs for the average worker. He adds for men and women to get better paying jobs starts with manufacturing, which he refers to as the hub of our community.
"To increase our jobs, which will increase our families, allow kids, families to continue to be working here in the community and not having to leave for good jobs," stresses Neustaedter. "So that your children, your grandchildren can actually say 'I found a home, I found a great job right here in Steinbach.'"
Neustaedter says when he was President of the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce, he encouraged the city to hire an economic development officer. Neustaedter says he is still calling for that today.
Furthermore, he says the type of businesses that Steinbach needs more of, is those that have a workforce of between 20 and 50 employees, not those with hundreds or thousands.
"That's how you create a very stable and strong base," adds Neustaedter. "If one of those makes a mistake, moves out, you haven't lost a lot of jobs."
Neustaedter says Steinbach should view the playbook of the city of Winkler. He credits Winkler for doing a very good job attracting the smaller businesses.
Mayoral candidate John Fehr is also calling for an economic development office.
"I will move quickly to appoint a committee to work with the Chamber to establish an economic development office," pledges Fehr. "This is an extremely important issue and we do not want to drop the ball on this."
When asked for his vision, Fehr says it would be in the best interest of Steinbach to provide better jobs that pay a little bit more.
"As I went door to door there were people that had moved here and they had established a home here," shares Fehr. "And then they had to find a job in Winnipeg because they could not up themselves a little bit."
Fehr says if we can attract more high paying jobs, then we can grow our tax base, which also helps the economy.
And finally, mayoral candidate Earl Funk says it is no secret that Steinbach needs jobs to push the community forward. He says there has not been great economic development in Steinbach for probably two decades.
"We need to start putting out Steinbach as the place to do commercial development, and that's what I will do," promises Funk. "I will work very hard to get that happening and we need tech jobs, we need higher paying jobs that will give our young people and our newcomers opportunities."
Though not willing to offer incentives for businesses to come to Steinbach, Funk says work needs to begin immediately on establishing an economic development officer.