Let me highlight a very common and true statement held by many citizens – “local businesses are the heart of our community”. Phrases, like this, merrily hold hands with “local businesses boost our economy” and “local businesses create jobs” – but do these statements spark tangible and supportive cultures? Not nearly enough.

It’s much easier to analyze, discuss and plan something than it is to execute an action towards it. Many great ideologies remain stagnant; never to be propelled into realistic settings.  Let’s face it – pulling the trigger is scary because there are many aspects to contemplate, such as timing, best choice, public perception, and overall impact. However, there is a particular group in society that faces fear and defy the odds on a daily basis. That group is our local businesses owners, operators, and entrepreneurs.

As of December 2015, the Canadian economy totaled 1.14 million (97.9 percent) of employer businesses as small businesses (Statistics Canada, Business Registrar, 2015). Many sources indicate the cost of doing business in Canada is rising, which is concerning for small business growth within Canada or competing for investment and customers abroad. Anxieties fall around protectionism in the U.S., availability of skilled labour, rising taxes and regulatory costs, such as minimum wage – which is promised to be raised to $15 an hour in BC by 2021 by the NDP government.

“Large corporations can use economies of scale or automation to mitigate higher labour costs, but small businesses would not have the resources to absorb the hike and may resort to cutting jobs, foregoing hiring, scaling back employee hours, or passing along the cost to consumers with higher prices,” said Richard Truscott, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s B.C. and Alberta spokesman to the Vancouver Sun.

Even though wage increases is one of many new ways the government plans to make life more affordable for locals, how can citizens support our current and emerging Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake business community to remain competitive?

Businesses – through past engagement, its clear collaborative support is a top priority for you to thrive. In partnerships with local government and community supporters, the local Economic Action Partnership wants to guide you towards the specific tools and resources you’re seeking.

Right now is your opportunity to give us specifics by completing the Business Support Survey. Please visit the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership homepage, at eap.kes.bc.ca, and click “Start Survey” to let us know how your community can support you. An added perk – five businesses will win customized business/marketing support from local professionals! If you have any questions, or want to provide your voice, please reach our team at 250-428-5655 ext. 429 or at economy@kes.bc.ca.

Whether you’re a business or community member, let’s support each other towards a healthy and prosperous Creston Valley – Kootenay Lake economy. Our future depends on it.

Published in the Creston Valley Advance,  January 18, 2018