City of Castlegar helping businesses succeed

I read in the  Castlegar News  a Business Retention and Expansion Pilot Project has been proposed for Castlegar.  It sounds really cool, although I wasn’t entirely sure what such a program would be like.  I thought I’d investigate a little further, so searching the name, I came up with the Business Retention and Expansion Project in Surrey.  I figured I’d give them a call.

Tracy Kalaw, the Economic Development Officer, was kind enough to take a little bit of time to tell me about how the program has worked in Surrey.

They have been running for three years. Basically, Tracy acts as a liaison, ensuring that the city knows all the day to day concerns of the businesses and that the businesses are aware of all the programs and services the city offers which might be of benefit.    Tracy personally meets with businesses, and identifies their issues of concern, and any limitations to growth.    She then folllows up with each business visited ensures that a letter is sent from the Mayor’s office thanking the business for participating in the program.  In getting to know the businesses, Tracy is able to guide them towards particular services, as well as identify businesses that would qualify for a given program or service (for example a clean energy program).

Another valuable part of the program is data analysis.  All of the issues are logged, so that  Surrey is now able to look at the information in the aggregate, and identify issues that may be holding businesses back as a whole.    This way, when they are making decisions about how to promote business in the future, the City of Surrey has a solid source of information to draw on.

It seems pretty cool to me, and I hope we can make it happen for Castlegar too.