Idea sprouts ingenuity

With a little outside-the-box thinking, we can create some spaces deemed attractive to smaller businesses, with potential to grow.

When BC Business magazine released its list of the 36 best cities for work last month, Port Alberni was listed at No. 31. Our neighbours to the east—Parksville, Nanaimo and Courtenay—were ranked much higher.

While we are making (or should that be mocking?) the most of the Worst Place to Live moniker given to us from another infamous magazine, the business conditions in our city are getting us noticed in a slightly more positive light.

But we can do better. And we believe that Kevin Wright’s ‘Sprout’ microbusiness program is one way to get people in Port Alberni thinking differently about our economic prospects.

Wright rightly says we are a victim of our own past success, when money and business were plenty; buildings were built and filled. Then the recession hit, and buildings began to sit vacant.

The map Wright came up with for South Port is a stark reminder of how dire building vacancies have become. And his idea to reduce the footprint, put in smaller businesses—even share the space with complementary businesses—is, we believe, a great way to kickstart revitalization city wide, not just uptown.

Paying part of the rent for a vacant building is better than a landlord having to foot the total bill. And perhaps microbusinesses will stimulate some cash flow so buildings can be upgraded to code.

We have heard Port Alberni is suffering a dearth of entrepreneurs, and there is no reason for it. With a little outside-the-box thinking, we can create some spaces deemed attractive to smaller businesses, with potential to grow.

— Alberni Valley News