Taking the pulse of business in Tumbler Ridge

Trent Ernst, Editor


Business in Tumbler Ridge is not what it once was. Everybody know that, but what does that mean?

That’s what Community Futures has been trying to figure out over the last few weeks, as they’ve been in town doing interviews with all the business owners in Tumbler Ridge.

This is the first stage of the Business Program, says Sue Kenney, General Manager of Community Futures (CFDC). They have been conducting a Business Visitation Program, to identify and foster practices to better service the business community. The project will provide the opportunity to match up individual business needs with applicable resources and available government programs.

“The reason we’re here is everyone knows about the downturn of the economy province-wide,” she says. “As well as with the closure of the mines in Tumbler Ridge. Businesses are really wearing the suffering. There’s less income coming from the community because everyone is feeling the pain. We don’t have any clear data, though, on the state of business in Tumbler Ridge.”

So, Kenny and crew have been in town the last couple of weeks. “We’re interviewing business to see how they’re doing. Find out whether they’re doing okay. Find out if there’s something that would make it easier on them, other than a mine opening up. Find out if there’s a way they can diversify, or downsize.”

The interviews began on January 11, and took about three weeks to complete. The four counsellors spent anywhere from half an hour to an hour with business owners, asking them a number of questions relating to labour needs, business climate, and business projections.

Kenny says the aggregated results will be used to identify opportunities, as well as areas that need to be addressed in order to develop strategies to encourage a healthy business climate.  “It will be data for the District, so they can see the trending of the businesses and see if there’s a way they can help out. It will be data for the Province, it will be data for the feds. You can do anything without showing the data. You have to have statistics. This will show real statistics. We can also identify any training needs for the businesses. If a business wants to sell, we can help with succession planning.”

Kenny says they’ve tried to hit every business, but there still might be some businesses that have slipped through the cracks. She encourages them to contact her at Communty Futures in Dawson Creek.

“Much of the economic sustainability of Tumbler Ridge depends on the health of our existing businesses.  Many of the new jobs created in communities come from existing successful business.”

The program is being launched and administered by Community Futures who is responsible for managing, coordinating and promoting the program, but it’s being done in conjunction with the District.

“Our Business Visitation program has several objectives,” says Mayor Don McPherson, “We want to better understand how local business people view Tumbler Ridge & surrounding area economy and how we can improve as a place to do business.  We also hope to establish a system that provides early warning of local business problems to prevent needless business losses and to retain jobs.”

“Our hope is to keep this community alive,” says Kenny. “You need to have the businesses, because small businesses are your employers right now. We’re hoping that people are able to stay, that they have enough capital. Is there some way we can help? And we’ll report it to the Province. For the businesses, it doesn’t cost them anything, and it will show them the trends, show them what’s going on. We know that things aren’t good. If we can show the Province trends, they have more data and they can make recommendations.”

If you missed talking to Kenny, contact Commuity Futures at 250-782-8748.