2018 was a tough year for Alberta's economy, and the effects of it echoed throughout the Foothills.

Business owners had to prepare for new legislation regarding holiday pay earlier in the year, as well as an increase in minimum wage in October.

Sara Noyes, President of the Okotoks & District Chamber of Commerce says business owners were feeling the pressure.

"In October we saw minimum wage go up from $13.60 to $15 an hour, and businesses were somewhat prepared for that; but only as much as you can be. I think we're seeing that a lot of businesses have the owners on the front lines as a result, and owners that were already working a lot are really working a lot."

There was a number of big business closures in Okotoks, such as Rylie's Cattle Barn, Freshii, and Swiss Chalet. Noyes says we may see a big impact from these business closures, as they have big shoes to fill.

Along with these closures, we also saw quite a few smaller entrepreneurial businesses establish themselves.

Noyes says she was pleased to see many residents commit to shopping locally.

"You're hearing more people talking about shopping local, and you're hearing more people purposefully spending their money locally. I talked to many many people over the Christmas holidays who were really trying to spend their money in town and not go elsewhere. The more we can promote peope to do that, the better off Okotoks will be."

We're heading into an interesting and unpredictable climate, especially with the provincial election looming, and Noyes says it will be itneresting to see how the year unfolds.

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