CASTLEGAR—What do Castlegar and district retail stores, law offices, restaurants, manufacturers, trades services and financial services have in common? They represent the types of businesses that will be visited by business leaders, in the Castlegar community during our first Business Walk on Tuesday, May 17. The program is designed to have representatives of organizations that serve the business community take the time to connect face to face with business operators in an informal, casual way and determine what is working for them and how conditions can be improved.
The program is powered by the Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce with the City of Castlegar, Community Futures Central Kootenay and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. Business walks have proven highly effective in strengthening local economies by retaining businesses in a community and creating an environment where they can grow.
More than 20 volunteer business leaders “walkers” will call on over 100 businesses and have brief conversations around three key questions: “How is business?” “What do you like about doing business in your area?” and “How can business be improved?” Companies with specific needs will be followed up and provided one-on-one assistance.
The information gathered during business walks can be used in a number of ways. For organizations such as the Community Futures, Basin Business Advisors (CBT), Castlegar Chamber of Commerce and the City of Castlegar, business walks track the pulse of the business community and is one tool used to identify needed programs and services to the community. Civic leaders can better connect with businesses in their communities through the face-to-face conversation that is initiated, and identify and remove barriers to doing business in their areas.
Corie Griffiths, business development officer for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission and the first organization to conduct a Business Walk in Canada, says “Recognizing the economic impact small business have on the local economy, business retention and enhancement has been the mainstay of COEDC programming. This is an excellent way for service providers throughout the region to come together to improve the services we provide to our local businesses and ensure a sustainable economic climate that promotes growth in the region.”
The Business Walk visits will be unscheduled stop ins between 9:30 a.m.–12 p.m. and 2–4:30 p.m. If we miss a business we will be back next year or the business can contact Tammy at the Castlegar Chamber of Commerce to arrange for an interview.