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Stay Local

Submitted by: Kootenay Employment Services

“Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer.” – Unknown

The East Kootenay has the third highest percentage of small business in BC with the second highest growth rate for small business in the province. Provincially, close to 45% of workers are employed by small business.

Local businesses play a huge role in creating the communities we have chosen to live and work in. It will take years for them to recover from Covid-19’s massive impact on the economy. Kootenay Employment Services recently asked some business owners in Fernie, Kimberley, Invermere, Cranbrook and Creston to share their stories for a video project. These two productions focus on how local businesses have coped and adapted. It is a glimpse inside the biggest hurdle a they will experience professionally and personally. Their words were honest, emotional, and informative.  

Tourism and seasonal revenue are key factors to our regional economy and Covid-19 has halted this source. Visitors and secondary homeowners that spend time and money here face limited travel. The locations, events and attractions that draw people in are closed, cancelled, or postponed under Covid-19 restrictions. Employers also struggle with staffing shortages as these positions are typically filled by now shut-out non-local seasonal workers. Local businesses were forced to abandon existing practices and find new ways to serve customers and get cash in the register.

Online and phone shopping, curbside pickup and delivery were quick fixes that are now standard practices for most companies. This is challenging our habits of frequently ordering online from out of area corporations to seeing what is available down the street.

A common theme from the local business owners is the noticeable shift in customer relations to a more personable experience. They are talking and connecting more, despite the lack of in-person interaction, and changing the face of customer service. Business owners are stressing the importance of collaborating and communicating together, the chance to share what is and isn’t working, where to access resources, re-opening plans is now a regular occurrence because it ‘makes sense to work together’.

Local businesses truly are the heart of community and spending your money where you live is an investment in your community. It starts with being mindful of where you spend your money. Something that could be ordered online but can alternatively be purchased in your hometown. Many shops have pick-up arrangements in place so that you can feel safe when placing you order. That money goes from the cash register back into the community. Local business owners buy and spend at home on goods and services plus pay taxes that build and maintain infrastructure including schools, hospitals, libraries and parks. They also hire your family, friends, and neighbors. As we embark in Stage 3 of re-opening the economy let’s do our part to keep local businesses alive and stay local.

“Stay Local – EK” and “Stay Local – Creston” can be viewed on Kootenay Employment Services’ Facebook page.

For more information contact Kootenay Employment Services in Fernie at 250-423-4204