Matthew Allen is one of three finalists for the TD Business Writing Award for his three-part Death of Retail series. (Matthew Allen / Northern View photo) It’s important to support local businesses as they will be needed in the future, the BC Economic Development said, on March 19. (Matthew Allen / Northern View photo)

Dire picture for B.C’s businesses

Prince Rupert is resilient, said Chamber of Commerce President

  • Mar. 19, 2020 2:25 p.m.

A dire picture has been painted of what more than 8000 B.C. businesses are experiencing now and what they expect to face in the near future.

The BC Economic Development Association (BCEDA) which represents more than 300 Indigenous and regional governments in B.C, the BC Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Small Business BC, and Community Futures BC, launched a survey on March 13 to understand specific impacts BC businesses are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, British Columbia Economic Development said a press release on March 19.

“It’s no question that public health has to be the number one priority at this time,” Dale Wheeldon, president & CEO of BCEDA.

“Our local business community provides us with a standard of living we are all accustomed to, and it’s important to support, them now. We will need them there for us in the future,” Wheeldon said.

“The Prince Rupert District Chamber of Commerce (PRDCC) is actively sharing information with it’s members and maintaining open lines of communication…” said Michelle Boomars-MacNeill, president of the PRDCC.

READ MORE: Chamber of Commerce to interview local business owners

The survey results provided a good cross-section of small and medium-sized businesses from across British Columbia the press release said.

“It clearly shows that small to medium enterprises (SME) are already experiencing a significant reduction in business, putting them and their employees at risk. Collectively we need to act now to implement measures like loan guarantees, flexibility with tax payments, development of programs to enhance economic development at the community level , while recognizing that not one solution will fit all,” Wheeldon said.

“While recognizing that this is a rapidly-evolving situation, we are here to assist our business community in any way we can,” Boomars-MacNeill said.

READ MORE: Part 1: Death of Retail in Prince RupertSummary of survey results:

Ninety per cent of businesses are “currently being impacted by COVID-19”

Of those impacted, 83 per cent have seen a “drop in revenue, business, or deal flow”

Ninety-one per cent anticipate a further “decrease in revenue in the near-term” [sic]

Seventy-three per cent of businesses expect their revenues will drop by 50 per cent or more (with nearly a quarter saying revenues will drop by 100 per cent)

Half of the respondents say they will be “temporarily shutting down” their offices

Sixty-four per cent of respondents expected to reduce their staff by more than half, of which a quarter said they will be reducing their staff by 100 per cent

“Organizations like ours around the province are working closely with the BC Chamber of Commerce to provide recommendations to the government that will help create an economic recovery plan that meets needs in every region.

“Prince Rupert is strong and resilient; by demonstrating mutual care and support for our neighbours we are showing the true nature of this community,” Boomars-MacNeill. “We are grateful for the support and quick action of the BC Chamber of Commerce, which rolled out a Business Impact Survey and shared the findings with the Premier’s office.”

The information gathered in the survey has been sent to both the federal and provincial governments– and the intelligence you ( B.C. businesses) shared with us is helping shape how government reacts to this pandemic crisis in real time,” Wheeldon said.

K-J Millar | Journalist 
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