The findings from what is being touted as the largest-ever business survey in the Elk Valley have been published.
Elk Valley economic initiative (EVEI) officials said the Elk Valley Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) survey report will be used to identify and respond to the needs of local businesses to encourage them to stay in the region and grow.
“Challenges identified in this report are not necessarily unique to the Elk Valley, however, it is important that specific supports and action items are developed for the region’s businesses to stimulate a strong economic climate,” said EVEI officials.
“The three biggest factors we found impacting businesses in the Elk Valley were the cost of doing business, housing and workforce attraction,” said Taylor Jenkins, Elk Valley economic recovery advisor. “The latter two factors need to be addressed because they are major impediments to business expansion and retention.”
The report highlighted four action items for communities to focus on to help support local businesses.
“The first was workforce attraction, the second was workforce housing, then business expansion and retention followed by supporting micro and home-based businesses in the Elk Valley,” said Jenkins. “For workforce attraction, the recommendation promoting the Elk Valley region as a whole, better support for employment programs as well as actively recruit outside of the Elk Valley.”
Jenkins noted that the action items in the reports are meant to guide decisions by local governments and chambers of commerce to support Elk Valley businesses.
“We’re trying to bring everyone to the table right now to have round-table discussions and see what the Elk Valley Economic Initiative can do to help deal with the housing needs for businesses. It’s become a huge issue and it’s been affecting business growth because businesses are having a hard time finding employees because they can’t find housing,” explained Jenkins.
Jenkins said the focus, for now, is on support for businesses that already exist in the Elk Valley.
“We really want to focus on workforce attraction. It’s kind of hard to talk about investment attraction and getting new businesses while we have these key issues of workforce attraction and workforce housing,” said Jenkins. “I think it’s important to address those and help the businesses we have that are local right now and in the long term, look for investment attraction to bring in new businesses.”
This is the first of four reports that will be published from this data. Community-specific reports for Elkford, Fernie and Sparwood will be released in May.
According to Jenkins, 318 businesses participated in the survey. The full report can be found below.
More: Elk Valley Business Retention and Expansion Report (Elk Valley economic initiative)