Business Walk boosted by provincial cash set for May 11

By on April 21, 2017
City staff and volunteers are set to canvassed businesses in Merritt, with their answers informing the business walk report released by the city. (Photo courtesy of the City of Merritt).

Merritt’s third annual Business Walk is set for May 11, with this year’s edition bolstered by a portion of the provincial cash the City of Merritt received following the Tolko sawmill closure last December.

The Business Walk is an annual survey of local businesses, conducted by city staff in partnership with a variety of community groups. Business owners are polled by a roving group of volunteers, and their responses are compiled into a report published by the City of Merritt.

This year — thanks to a portion of the $100,000 the City of Merritt received through the Rural Dividend Fund — that report will be available to the public by the end of May.

“People answer the questions or the survey and then they want to see the report come out the next day,” said Will George, manager of economic development and tourism for the City of Merritt. To ensure the report gets out faster this year, George said the City of Merritt will be hiring a temporary business walk assistant who will assist with interviews, data entries and work on the finished report.

The City of Merritt had applied for the special circumstances grant to pay for a number of business retention and attraction initiatives after more than 200 local jobs were lost following the sawmill’s closure.

Those initiatives include a land and building inventory, consumer leakage study, succession planning and creating more signage, according to the City of Merritt’s application to the province’s Rural Dividend Fund.

The questions for this year’s survey is still being put together, though George said he expects to have the questions released by April 26.

“We looked at whether we wanted to tweak them or change them, and for the most part, they will be the same questions as last year,” said George. “We want to compare results year after year. If we keep changing the questions, it will be difficult to see what the trends are over the years.”

While the walk is an opportunity for community groups like the Merritt Chamber of Commerce to gather important data on the state of business, George said the event is also an opportunity for city staff to share details about programs, benefits and partnerships offered to businesses in the area, that local entrepreneurs may not have been aware of.

During last year’s Business Walk, adding more signage was identified one of the top requests from business in town.

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