From a report compiled by Village of Valemount Economic Development Officer Silvio Gislimberti
The first Business Walk (BW) in Valemount was held on Thursday April 16. The BW was introduced by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and provides an opportunity to connect with business owners/managers face to face in an informal casual way. The BW also offers an excellent opportunity to listen to the local business community and to identify common themes. It is also an opportunity to present local, regional and provincial services to local business owners/managers such as the CBT Basin Business Advisor Program and Community Futures.
Representatives of Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Village of Valemount, Valemount & Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures and Basin Business Advisors made up the teams that visited about forty businesses on Main Street, Downtown on 5th Avenue and the corridor along Highway 5 between 5th and 9th Avenue.
Each business owner or manager was asked four simple questions:
Rate the current state of your business. 15% responded slow/poor, 45% indicated Fair/Steady, and 40% said business was Good or Increasing.
What is the greatest challenge your business faces today? Seasonality topped the charts at 25%, staffing came in a close second at 22.5%. Other challenges indicated were Signage 7.5%, Customers 7.5%, Shop local 7.5% and cash flow 7.5%. Capacity Building 7.5%, Rent 5.0%, Costs 2.5%, Taxes 2.5%, Zoning 2.5%, and 2.5% of those questions cited no concerns.
3) What can be done to help your business thrive? Promotion and Marketing 20%, direct people to downtown 15%, incentives 10%, bureaucracy 7.5%, signage 7.5%, zoning 5%, direct people to Main Street 2.5%, increase population 2.5%, limit the number of Business Licenses 2.5%. None 27.5%
4) How many people do you employ? Businesses in the affected area employ a total of 157 full time, and 77 part time employees.
Summary: The current state of the businesses is generally very good and according to business owners/managers 45% declare that the current situation is fair/steady and 40% good/increasing. Sixteen percent (15%) of business owners/managers declare that the current situation of their business is slow to poor. With regard to the major challenges that businesses face, 25% are impacted by seasonality and 22% by the lack of staff. The Village and other provincial agencies could help local businesses by increasing promotion and marketing of the Village (20% of respondents) and by trying to direct Hwy traffic to the downtown area and to Main Street (17.5% of respondents). Ten percent (10%) think that some type of incentives could also help to retain local businesses and to attract new businesses. Numerous business owners/managers positively received the BW and expressed satisfaction with the Village’s commitment to this program.
In addition to this report, the EDO expanded on and compiled a complete list of responses which is available from the Village Office or from the Chamber of Commerce.
Because of time and manpower constraints only a limited number of businesses could be visited on this first walk, but plans are already underway to expand the project to include businesses that are located outside of the initial area and a more informal open house round table discussion with home based businesses and other. No dates for these two events are confirmed as yet. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Valemount are reviewing the results to determine where they can initiate some action.