The City of Prince Rupert believes the well being of the residents of Prince Rupert depends upon a healthy, growing economy which is why Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development have partnered with Community Future Pacific Northwest, the Northwest Community College and Northern Development Initiatives Trust to initiate a Business Retention and Expansion Program.
Building upon a survey conducted by Community Futures with the City earlier this year, which studied a need for succession planning among exiting businesses, the partnership aims to create a more comprehensive business retention and expansion program. On November 17th a group of volunteers, primarily students of the Business Administration program at Northwest Community College will be calling business owners and conducting brief interviews.
The objectives of the BRE Program are as follows:
Identify and help solve problems experienced by local businesses
Assist firms in using provincial and local programs/resources
Set priorities for long-range business retention and expansion efforts
Build community capacity to sustain growth
Demonstrate that the community cares about and appreciates local businesses
According to Economic Development Officer, Derek Baker, the program is designed to emphasize the importance of local business retention and to establish communications with area companies.
“Business retention activities tend to achieve high returns on investment,” said Baker.
“Research shows the vast majority of job growth is derived from the expansion of local businesses. Our engagement program is an important step in an effort to identify business issues, identify growth and employment opportunities, and provide valuable resources to existing companies in Prince Rupert to help them achieve success.”
The partnership is proactively reaching out to business license holders in Prince Rupert in order to gather opinions and data on local business conditions. To accomplish this, over 300 businesses within the City will be surveyed. Once the initial information has been collected PREDC and Community Futures will follow up with the shortlisted group of businesses that are noted as being either high potential for growth and expansion, or at risk or constrained in their ongoing operations.
“Every day we see signs of an economic rebound,” noted Community Futures General Manager John Farrell.
“Often that creates a drive to bring new players, new business opportunities to the region. This program tackles the other side of that growth potential. It is aimed at our existing small businesses by helping them find a successor, maintain a hold in the economy or expand and grow their products and services.”
“We are pleased to be providing direct assistance to the City of Prince Rupert as they start the municipality’s first business retention and expansion program,” stated Janine North, Chief Executive Officer for Northern Development.
“We provide local governments throughout central and northern BC with economic development funding every year, and we are also providing dedicated staff assistance to Prince Rupert through our Economic Development Internship program to support their Economic Development Officer, Derek Baker, as he works to engage and assist local businesses.”
Information will be gathered, by staff members of Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development, Northern Development and Community Futures as well as students of the Business Administration program from the Prince Rupert Northwest Community College campus. The results of each individual survey will be kept private, though the aggregated survey data will be shared with the public upon completion of the program. PREDC hopes the information gathered will allow them to be more responsive to issues facing local companies and in recruiting others to open or expand here.
“This effort serves as an early warning system to help identify companies that may be leaving, the challenges they are facing, or opportunities where they might be constrained for space and looking for opportunities to grow,” Baker said.
“It puts us in a position to proactively help business leaders address those issues.”