Chilliwack Small Businesses
This Question came in from a gentleman named Dale.
My name is Dale Johnson and I am a local business owner in Chilliwack. I am in a partnership with Jason Petty and have a marketing company by the name of SparkSpot Creative. We are also the main proponents behind the Live! Chilliwack Facebook page and events in the community (Cash Mob and Field to Fork).
We have worked with over 120 small, locally owned and operated businesses and have built quite a following. Recently we won an award for being the Top Local Advocate in the “We Heart Local” awards, a group funded by the BC Farmers Market Association and Global, as well as some other minor sponsors.
At times despite the successes we have had we feel like we are fighting a losing battle. We have heard “I support small business” from nearly every candidate, and honestly who is going to say they dont support small business? What we have not heard are any specific initiatives or ideas that would accomplish this.
I would like to know if you have any specific plans or ideas on how to improve the state of small business in Chilliwack and what you feel government’s role is in supporting small business.
This was my answer to him:
Thank you for the note, and thank you for all of the work that you do to promote local business in this community! As you know I own a small business, so i understand the challenges that come with trying to compete against chain stores and big box establishments in particular. To better understand the solutions that I would look at proposing, I choose to examine other communities outside of Chilliwack that seem to support small business better than we do. How is it that they have bustling downtown cores? Or a noticeable lack of big box stores cluttering strip malls on the outskirts of town?
I do not have all of the answers on the outset, however I do believe that if we ask the correct questions, those answers will become apparent.
The City of Chilliwack has the amazing tool of CEPCO to help us promote business relocation to Chilliwack, aid in starting business here in the community, and build the necessary infrastructure to facilitate economic growth. That said, I think that this tool has been underutilized in certain areas. I would like to see some of the focus of CEPCO shift from recruiting already established businesses from else ware, and instead focus on the needs of existing businesses as well as the fostering of new ones. I would like to see the founding of a business incubator, a place where aspiring entrepreneurs could come and meet with mentors to flesh out their ideas and hopefully also find assistance in getting their vision off of the ground. The barriers to entry for new business in Chilliwack are large. Mostly due to the opaque nature of the process. Other towns have long term economic plans that outline where the City is trying to foster growth and their plans to make that growth happen. If we were to have such a plan I believe that this would help to give those looking to make new business investment in Chilliwack, greater confidence in our community.
The City also needs to work better with the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown BIA to provide useful information to business. Perhaps helping to coordinate consistent hours in certain shopping districts or multi-business marketing initiatives.
Non of these ideas will work on their own however I am confident that with a consolidated effort, and a focus from City Hall that Chilliwack will continue to grow to have a small business sector.
We must all come to realize that supporting a small business is supporting your neighbor and supporting your community. This is the answer to a vibrant and stable economy.