Merritt is experiencing a spike in growth and development these days.

The city’s planning and development manager said there were 70 new businesses registered with the city in 2014, bringing the total number up to 585.

That’s about a 20 per cent increase in the number of businesses from 2013, Sean O’Flaherty said.

The new Diacarbon pellet plant and all the companies that worked on that project are included in those numbers.

With the Merritt Green Energy project under construction, O’Flaherty anticipates another increase in businesses operating in Merritt in the next year and a half, balancing out those that may fall out of 2015’s numbers now that the pellet plant is up and running.

He said the anticipated building of new hotels in Merritt’s Gasoline Alley area should also yield a number of new business licences.

O’Flaherty said this upswing in development is the first spike of its kind in 10 years.

He said between 2005 and 2015, growth in Merritt has been on a steady, slow increase.

The total value of building permits in Merritt more than doubled in 2014 from the previous year’s number, and is expected to double again for 2015, O’Flaherty said.

In 2014, the valuation of building permits in Merritt was about $11.65 million, compared to $4.1 million in 2013.

The number of businesses counted in Merritt includes storefronts, contractors, home-based businesses and out-of-town trades.

City of Merritt chief administrative officer Allan Chabot told city council he thinks the majority of new job growth in Merritt will come from existing businesses, and wants more focus placed on supporting their expansion.