The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce and the provincial Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training partnered to deliver the first Business Walk event in the Columbia Valley on November 12, 2015. More than 120 businesses were visited by 40 volunteers from the District of Invermere, Village of Radium, Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, Basin Business Advisors, East Kootenay Regional District, Community Futures East Kootenay, Imagine Kootenay, and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, as one means to gather information from a sample of the business community and to identify opportunities to facilitate business growth.
The Business Walk program is designed to capture the pulse of businesses in the Columbia Valley by asking businesses 6 questions related to the state of their business and the local economy. It provides valuable information that support agencies can use to develop programs and services that will better support our local small businesses. The Business Walk has helped to communicate relevant issues and opportunities to the Chamber and the local and provincial governments.
Highlights from the Business Walk include:
- Business owners are feeling positive about the state of business in the Columbia Valley, with 67% of businesses surveyed rating the state of their business as “good or increasing”.
- The top three assets business owners like most about doing business in the Columbia Valley are the people, the location and the lifestyle
- Small business is a major employer in the Columbia Valley. The 121 businesses surveyed during the Business Walk represent over 1,450 jobs.
- Businesses are seeking support on labour attraction/retention; marketing partnerships and promoting downtown business opportunities.
- Succession planning is needed for Columbia Valley businesses over 55% businesses do not have a succession plan which tells us they are not preparing for retirement or they haven’t thought about the “what ifs” should they decide to make changes in their lives. We want our business owners to be prepared for whatever eventuality whether it is an opportunity to sell to an investor or retire young and healthy.
The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce is planning a number of follow-up actions related to the Business Walk, including offering succession planning resources, human resources training and new buy local marketing programs. In total, 13 businesses have received direct follow-up support to ensure specific concerns are addressed or to be provided with additional information and support to assist their businesses growth.