Location and labour figured prominently in Salmon Arm Econonic Development’s Business Walk survey this year.
Volunteers surveyed 104 businesses – 65 commercial, 32 industrial and eight agriculture.
Asked about the strengths of doing business in the community, ‘location’ garnered the most responses at 27 per cent. Close on its heels were: clientele, then available local services, cost of doing business, business friendly local governmnet and availability of labour.
On the flip side, the challenge most noted by businesses surveyed was labour at 24 per cent.
The ‘other’ category of challenges equalled 27 per cent and included: lack of available and affordable rental housing, weeds and ditching for the agriculture sector, and lack of public transit in the industrial park.
The next challenges after labour were: property taxes, marketing, lack of customers, local infrastructure and services, lack of space, finances and lastly, local restrictions.
Asked about the current state of their business, 87 per cent of respondents said it is steady or increasing.
To the question, ‘how does this compare to last year,’ 12.5 per cent said worse, 25 per cent said no change and 56 per cent responded, better.
The 104 businesses employ 1,699 people collectively, about 20 per cent of the community’s workforce. This is a 6.5 per cent increase from last year and Economic Development predicts a further 6.2 per cent increase in full-time equivalent (FTE) positions in 2017.
In summary, Economic Development states that, similar to last year, the majority of survey responses show a strong sense of optimism, while there remain challenges to sustainability and growth.
“Acccess to labour remains a challenge, and related to this – accessible housing.”