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?

  • Look beyond the sparkle statements. Yes, local businesses support our local economy, but they need us as much as we need them. Is it worth purchasing dairy products for $2 less across the border? Are those renovation materials worth purchasing outside the community? Think about your purchasing decisions and how you can offer support. We are all in this together.
  • Your online empire purchases sting, big time. Before you make your next Amazon purchase, understand what you’re taking away from local businesses and your own According to the Huffington Post article “Before You Click: Amazon vs. Local Business”, online purchases create fewer local jobs, higher tax burdens for households (normally gathered by local property and sales taxes), and minimally-cycled revenue within our communities. Next time you criticize limited job opportunities and high taxes, consider your spending habits.
  • Understand how they provide the community beat. From providing neighborhood character to forward-thinking innovations, our local businesses are vital to our existence. They provide a different kind of care & quality in product and services, which is a reflection of themselves as community members – not by a board, stockholder, or algorithm. Businesses bring originality and variety in world that is increasingly homogenized. They create and offer choice to you – a perk of having a familial relationship with businesses. Overall, businesses and entrepreneurs give Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake communities our shape, texture, colour and taste – quite literally.

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