Commercial Investment Strategy meeting held

Ray Proulx (Economic Development Officer) and Ryan Murray (Projects North Management) hosted the Business Strategy Meeting Wednesday night in Room Five at the Community Centre. There was a turnout of approximately 25 business owners for the event. The evening started out with an over view of the strategy proposal. The strategy has six objectives.

Objective 1: Improve the local business climate. Action: As the initial point of contact for business, the Economic Development Department will continue to welcome, encourage and stimulate the growth in residential, commercial and business development.

Objective 2: Ensure that District land available for development offers investors a reasonable ownership risk and does not undermine overall land values. Action: The District will rationalize the development and sale of District land with private sector interests and attract qualified investors interested in Tumbler Ridge?s vision.

Objective 3: Use available business infrastructure funds to target first the priority needs of the sectors with the most potential.

Action: The District will continue improving the appearance of public infrastructure in the commercial core and its efforts to improve the local telecommunications infrastructure.

Objective 4: Supplement current services to business with more focus on retaining and expanding existing businesses.

Action: Working with the local business community, District will identify business retention and expansion opportunities.

Objective 5: Increase investor interests and confidence.

Objective 6: Monitor, evaluate, adjust, report, and communicate the business retention, expansion, and investment attraction activities carried out by the District and local businesses.

Action: The Department will attract investment in Tumbler Ridge by maximizing accountability and minimizing effort by using technology to record its work and track and report its progress.

Some of the topics that were touched upon tonight raise many questions with everyone. ?How realistic is it really?? is one that was asked by many people. Well the answer to that was ?as realistic as we are willing to make it.? answered Ryan Murray. Another comment was, ?The more business we have in Tumbler Ridge, the more the money stays in Tumbler Ridge? Ryan Murray stated. Stacey Lajeunesse asked ?What kind of Incentives is the District willing to offer to see this project happen? Ray Proulx answered ?there?s room to move within guidelines ie: Tax breaks and incentives.?

During an open discussion I overheard many concerns that were being repeatedly spoken like

?Sounds great but we?ve heard it before ?

and ?You need to consult and listen to local businesses?

so with these questions and doubts flying around the room Ryan Murray took the initiative and just simply asked

?Do you all as a whole support this strategy?? and in whole the room answered ?Yes?. He then said ?then it can happen?.

After the meeting I caught up with a local business owner to find out there over all input on, how informed and confident they felt with the proposal. Janice Turner (Owner with husband Dean Turner of True Value) answered ?The information was well researched and the proposal looks good, but overall action is wanted. Focus is needed in each separate sector ie: business, tourism, heavy industry, and retail.?

I had a chance to speak with Ray Proulx later in the evening as well. I asked ?Do you think the residents of Tumbler Ridge will embrace the ideas on expanding and revamping the town?? Mr. Proulx answered ?Not the community as a whole will accept it, but for the most part yes I do. The business community has expressed a desire to expand.?

I also asked? How do you feel about this evenings overall turnout and response by the business owners?? Mr. Proulx answered ?Good, the number of people who attended was good, the discussion was good and the feedback was good. We pitched stuff out and I was impressed by how well it took off.?

Ryan Murray stated to me in closing that ?The Economic Development officer (Ray Proulx) and Consultant (Ryan Murray) have confirmed with the business community that the basic elements of the strategy have the support of the business community. District staff will be submitting the principles and proposed objectives to council for adoption.?