A year’s worth of consultation and discussion has narrowed the Ladysmith & District Chamber of Commerce’s focus on two projects, which it will undertake in the coming year.
“Economic development has been the focus of these meetings since they began in January 2015 and after sifting through many reports, and looking at many options, two economic development projects have been chosen as top priorities that the Chamber of Commerce and its community partners will pursue,” said Manager Mark Drysdale.
The Chamber is set to launch a business retention and expansion survey – also known as a business walk. The objective will be to develop baseline information about local businesses, their overall health and satisfaction, as well as developing strategies to better assist in retaining businesses in Ladysmith and helping them to grow and prosper.
“The group suggested that this project should start right away, with a target date of June for the survey to be released and with the report to be made available as soon as possible thereafter,” Drysdale said.
Businesses can expect a visit from Chamber volunteers, who will be asking questions based on a structured survey. The Chamber is forming a steering committee to guide the business walk project, consisting of members from the Chamber, the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, the Town of Ladysmith and the community, Drysdale said.
“This gives people a chance to have a say,” said Paul Mycroft, president of the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, who sits on the steering committee. “Many people are busy, so they just can’t get out to additional meetings to air their views, so this gives them a chance to be heard, and to feel like they are being part of change.”
Ladysmith councillor Carol Henderson said the survey will help the town in its decision-making, and that being a part of the process will help council put things in context.
“In the end I know that many of the decisions that will be made will come back to the town, and I think it’s better that I’m in it from the ground up,” Henderson said. She believes the survey will bring comments about how effective the town is at encouraging and retaining business into “a more focused picture.”
A second focus of the Chamber will be ‘cost of doing business’ research. A study will be undertaken looking at some of the fixed and variable costs businesses in Ladysmith face, including commercial and property taxes.
“This project will be targeted for the fall and the Chamber will seek assistance from Vancouver Island University to carry out the research,” Drysdale said, adding that a steering committee of community partners will established to guide this process, too.
“These two projects were chosen based on the availability of resources to complete them and their relative capacity to improve economic conditions in the community,” Drysdale concluded.
The round-table process that resulted in the selection of the two projects will be ‘suspended’ until results from the two selected project are in, then will resume – sometime in 2017 – when the Chamber will decide ‘what to do next’.