Alberni launches business retention survey

Between now and March, a small team from the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce will be canvassing local business owners.

What does it take to do business in Port Alberni? What should municipal leaders be doing, if anything, to keep business here?

Economic development manager Pat Deakin and chamber of commerce officials are hoping a business retention survey will answer these questions and give the city a better picture of how business owners play into its economy.

Between now and March, incoming chamber executive director Bill Collette and a small team of helpers will be going around to different businesses, interviewing owners.

Originally, Deakin had hoped to cover at least 400 of the 660 businesses in Port Alberni, but he and Collette have since realized that goal was too lofty for the time limit Collette is under.

“For a community of this size, if you did 200 businesses in a year that would be successful,” said Colleen Bond, a consultant with EDCD Consulting from Kelowna. Bond was in town last week to train Deakin, Collette and other chamber of commerce members on how to conduct the survey and input the data.

“It’s quite a task; a lot of conversation is going to happen,” Bond said.

The survey has been created and endorsed by the Economic Development Association of B.C. and is available to any of the 71 member communities. Bond and the firm she works for have helped several other businesses on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland to undertake the survey.

The confidential survey is 90 questions long and examines the labour force, what business’s needs are sales wise, forecasting in the next three to five years how economic development can help and how the community and its partners (such as the chamber of commerce or Community Futures) can help.

“We want to know what businesses think about the community itself and what it’s like doing business here,” Bond said. “We got the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Once the report is finished, its findings should help the business community identify its strengths to build on and find out which weaknesses need work, she said.

Interviews began with Uptown businesses but will include others, Deakin said. “We’ve chosen to start the business retention survey with Uptown merchants, service offices and manufacturers because we are all concerned about the Uptown,” he said. “There are stakeholders organizing to address the concerns.”

Gayle Stephen-Player, who is president of the Uptown merchants’ association and also owns Gayle’s Fashions, said the survey is important to gauge how well Port Alberni retains business. “Keeping businesses (that are) here already, keeping them alive and well is very, very crucial, as is attracting new business,” she said.

Bond said it is a misnomer that growth happens when new businesses are brought into town. “Up to 80 per cent of new jobs created in a community actually come from the existing business base,” she said.

Collette, who is moving to Port Alberni from the Oceanside area, has never participated in such a business survey, but wishes he had been able to. “I’ve been a business owner and would have loved to participate,” he said. “We all have a voice. We all have issues and concerns and desires. If you can get a collection of those thoughts together, you might find there is common ground.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

City of Port Alberni ponders future of uptown train station

Developer interest in heritage building prompts discussion on uptown revitalization

Join a food asset mapping focus group in Port Alberni

Learn about food mapping heritage in Port Alberni and Clayoquot Sound

Somass River sockeye fishery estimates cut in half

Local fisheries closed; poor ocean survival a prime suspect

‘Lightning’ hits Sproat Lake for annual regatta

Alberni Valley Regatta Association hosted sixth annual races

Port Alberni track and field athletes excel at BC championships

Pair brings home titles in javelin, hammer throw

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

Most Read