Volunteers took to Prince Rupert’s streets once again to take the pulse of the city’s businesses in its annual Business Walk survey.
Twelve surveyors visited approximately 100 businesses, asking questions to get their sense of the business climate in the city. Questions included whether the business is growing, remaining steady or shrinking, what some of the challenges of operating the business are, and how the city’s leadership can help entrepreneurs thrive and grow.
This is the second year the city has officially organized the walk — a similar, informal project was organized in 2016 — and as business owners become more familiar with the survey, they are welcoming the opportunity to offer feedback.
“They now know what the business walks are about so they know once a year they’ll be contacted, interviewed and it gives them a chance to have their voice,” said Paul Vendittelli, the economic development officer with the city.
Vendittelli added that the walk — which was coordinated by the City of Prince Rupert in partnership with Community Futures, the provincial government and the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce — is a great way to establish communication between the city and its business owners, who might not otherwise have an opportunity to make their voices heard.
“With a lot of these small businesses it’s one person on staff, so it’s difficult for them to get out in these support groups like the chamber or the city,” he said. “So when you go to them, you’re on their turf, you’re with them and that’s where you can ask them these questions and they’re able to have a voice.”
Most of the businesses owners surveyed had similar answers to the questions posed. Many of them said what they enjoyed most about running their business was the interaction with the people of Prince Rupert. The biggest issues identified were lack of parking downtown, and difficulty finding quality staff.
When asked how the city could support them better, most responders said raising the profile of Prince Rupert, and making it a more attractive place for people to come, work and live was the most important thing.
“It was a great idea. When I saw the notice come through that they were doing it, I was excited,” said Sonu Sandhu, manager at City Furniture who sat down with one of the surveyors. “The communication is there, but it’s important that they do something with it.”
After completing their walks, the volunteers met at the Community Futures offices in downtown Prince Rupert where they discussed the responses they received. Vendittelli said the city will now work with its partners to compile the data gathered and present to council and the community in the coming weeks.