Volunteers from the Central Okanagan business community got an earful this morning, as they hit the streets for this year’s business walk.
More than a dozen teams from local chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and the business community fanned out across the Okanagan, going door-to-door for some face-time with local business owners.
Over the course of three hours, teams in Lake Country, Kelowna, Westbank, West Kelowna and Peachland hit approximately 400 businesses, where owners took part in a quick, conversational survey about the state of their business.
This is the sixth year the walks have happened since the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission first pioneered the program in Canada.
These days, the COEDC runs the program with the help of local municipalities. The COEDC’s Tracey Fredrickson says the program is a valuable source of information for the organization.
“You end up, in the span of three hours, getting a great touch point of the business community,” she says.
“There’s nothing like that face-to-face communication. Even if business owners don’t always have something to say at the time, we’ve made that connection, and they now have someone familiar to connect with.”
Fredrickson and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, Dan Rogers, were one of the teams making the rounds this morning.
The pair began their morning knocking on business’ doors at Stewart Centre North, on Kirschner Road.
Among other things, they asked owners to rate the state of their business on a scale of 1-10, what their experience recruiting was like, what barriers they faced, and if they’d been affected by this year’s fires or floods.
Their answers ran the gamut.
Some rated their business at a strong 10 on the scale, while others put their progress at a five. A few said they had no plans to go anywhere, while others said they were looking to sell as soon as possible. Some raved about opportunities in the Okanagan, while others complained of serious challenges.
Each conversation took 10-15 minutes, and ended with handshakes and the exchange of business cards.
From about 9 a.m. until about 12 p.m. Fredrickson and Rogers made it to about 15 different businesses.
The answers the pair got will join those from the hundreds of other businesses volunteers stopped at today, which will be collected and shared publicly with elected officials, staff and partners.
The COEDC will also use the feedback to help shape its policies and initiatives.
Fredrickson explains they generally her a lot of what they already know, but having quantifiable number from a large sample of local businesses is important.
“It allows us to quantify it, and take a little more scientific approach to setting policies,” she says.
With the street-level walks finishing up today, Fredrickson says she expects a report on this year’s walk to come out within the next few weeks.
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