Companies interested in investing in Merritt had the chance to make local connections last Thursday during an Investors Symposium hosted by Community Futures and the City of Merritt.

During the afternoon, 36 people – including potential investors and local business ambassadors – boarded a chartered bus to tour key locations around town such as the new Country Music Hall of Fame, and ended the afternoon with a VIP barbecue dinner at Mountainfest and the show.

“The whole idea of the symposium is for investors to connect locally and put a face to a name,” said Economic Development Officer Deanne Parise. “We provided them with introductions to local businesses and talked about how we can complement existing industries with new ones.”

The Investors Symposium happens every year said Parise and it has resulted in companies such as Walmart, Canadian Tire and Boston Pizza choosing to locate in Merritt.

“The symposium serves to match the industry to our local economy,” said Parise. “It gives up an opportunity to tell the business why they would want to pick Merritt.”

This year the companies that participated in the symposium included Green Acres, a company interested in establishing greenhouses in the Nicola Valley, Western BioEnergy Inc., the company behind Merritt’s proposed green energy project, Huldra Silver, a mining company, and a contracting company interested in building approximately 48 new affordable homes in the area.

During the tour, each of the developers had the chance to profile their projects at the relevant site and hear from local businesses.

Parise said the feedback she got from investors was that they were really impressed.

“It’s hard to come into a city where you don’t know if you will be accepted but here they already have the support of the community and it makes it so much easier,” she said. “They provide us with a shopping list and we provide them with a catalogue of what is here.”

Hosting the symposium during Mountainfest provided an opportunity to showcase all the services Merritt has to offer such as transportation, police and emergency services and how well they are all managed, Parise said.

Among the people on the tour were Councillor Shelley Sanders and Mayor Susan Roline representing the city.

“It was a very interesting symposium and I commend CFDC for organizing it,” commented Sanders during council meeting on Tuesday. “Some very interesting people are looking at investing in Merritt.”

Roline was also impressed.

“It was a nice networking session and it was good to see how all the networking took place,” she said, adding that it was very satisfying to be a part of the symposium.

Networking between locals and investors will continue as Merritt hosts another big event this weekend.

“We have invited more investors for the bike rally, which is a good follow up to Mountainfest,” said Parise. “Every visitor is potential investor – we have to look at it that way.”