Castlegar has room for businesses to grow and a tour given by the Castlegar and District Economic Development Office Thursday night highlighted those opportunities to a group of business owners.
The Storefront of Opportunities event was co-hosted by the Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce. Its main purpose was to give people interested in starting or expanding a business a look at the commercial spaces available in town and to provide a networking opportunity.
More than 30 business owners and entrepreneurs from around the region went on the tour and looked at 16 available commercial properties.
The event was a hit with those attending. After the tour, attendees talked about feeling inspired about the possibility of expanding businesses into Castlegar.
“I think the event was a great success,” said Castlegar economic manager Mark Laver. “Ultimately, however, the proof will be the continued growth of the commercial sector in Castlegar and District.
“Already, there is limited space in the uptown area of the city, and there should be another new business opening up downtown in the coming weeks, which will be a nice addition to the mini-fashion district that has grown organically in the past few years.”
John Snelgrove attended the event as both the owner of Rossland’s Alpine Grind and as a Tourism Rossland director.
“I think this is interesting to do this,” said Snelgrove. “If you are an independent business, you don’t always think about having a second, or a third or a fourth place. But this kind of opens your eyes to the possibilities.”
Snelgrove, who has already opened a second location at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, says business is great at his coffee shop.
”There is no way I am moving my main business from Rossland,” he said. “I wanted to look at all of the options out there,” he said.
Snelgrove likes the idea of a satellite shop from his main business, especially something like a small space within an institution or office building.
Snelgrove says he is frequently approached by other people looking for opportunities in the area for things like warehouse space or light industrial space so he thought the tour was a good opportunity to see what was available.
Michelle Fairbanks from Gold Rush Books in Rossland has been in business for about two years. She took the tour because she really wanted to see what is going on downtown.
“I am looking at the opportunities here for a second location,” said Fairbanks, who was encouraged with the atmosphere of the business community and the supports available in Castlegar.
She was also impressed with the amenities available in Castlegar — access to the water, Selkirk College, the airport, the high school and affordability of housing.
Tricia Pujos-Michel also went on the tour, but she had already decided on opening up shop in Castlegar beforehand.
Pujos-Michel is a financial advisor with Edward Jones. Once lease details and renovations are finalized, the new location will open — hopefully before the end of the year.
Edward Jones previously had a Castlegar location, but it closed in 2012. The company is looking at this expansion as a re-opening of its Castlegar branch. One reasons is the number of clients the company is already serving who live in the Castlegar area.
The economic development office plans to run the tour again next year.