The results of the region’s first ever Business Walk are in!
Taking place during Small Business Week this past October, the results, compiled in the Business Walk Report, highlight valuable information that the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) and the municipalities can use to better support our local businesses.
135 businesses were visited by volunteers from the City of Rossland, City of Trail, Village of Fruitvale, Trail & District Chamber of Commerce, Basin Business Advisors, Community Futures of Greater Trail, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, and KAST.
Business Walk Report Provides Valuable Insights to Support Local Business
A means to gather information from a sample of the business community to identify opportunities to facilitate business growth, the Business Walk program is recognized as an Economic Development Best Practice by the Provincial Government.
The “Business Walk” was dedicated to learning more about local businesses through face-to-face interviews on site as opposed to in a conference room somewhere. “Walkers” (teams of leaders made up from the partners) strolled from business to business asking several conversationally structured questions to better capture the pulse of the business community all the while fostering relationships. It only took a few hours to cover large portions of the community where the community/region was able to connect with business in a short period of time and to identify opportunities and challenges. As a result it will provide a unique tool in the community-business toolbox as part of the more comprehensive Business Retention and Expansion Program.
The Business Walk program offers an excellent opportunity to listen to the local business community, identifying common themes for action while bringing together educational resources, municipal services and representatives of the business community for specific action plans. The Business Walks program allows for a great opportunity to gather the necessary industry intelligence to foster business growth.
Of the 133 participating businesses, some challenges became clear. As evidenced by the Business Walk Report, finding qualified, committed staff is chief among them, with 34% of businesses reporting their greatest challenge to be attracting and retaining good people.
Additionally, there is a lack in foot traffic, and, when combined with the lack of availability of affordable avenues of promotion along with seemingly lean promotion of the region as a whole, business people throughout the area are yearning for more effective marketing to increase visitors.
An area of ongoing concern is the fact that almost half of business owners planning to sell in the next five years have not prepared themselves with a succession plan. They have no idea of an effective exit strategy that will better assure the ongoing success of their business.
Despite challenges, however, it appears that a whopping 89% of the region’s businesses walked in this event are, in fact, steady or actually increasing. Generally, the sentiment is positive, good news for business throughout the area.
Take a more in-depth look at the Business Walk Report below: