Terrace, B.C. business walk figures into refreshed economic plan

Economic development manager's plan aims to maintain a diverse economy and help businesses thrive

A business walking tour planned for next week to acquaint local groups with local businesses is an important first step for the recently internalized economic development wing of the city, says economic development manager Danielle Myles.

It’s been less than half a year since the city’s contract with the Terrace Economic Development Authority expired. The new internal economic model kicked in with the hiring of Myles last summer to look after the city’s lands and business dealings, something that used to be done by TEDA in conjunction with the now cancelled position of corporate lands manager.

Myles says the business walk will see city staff team with Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine officials, the Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures and the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area Society and fan out to interview at least 50 local business owners in the area.

She says this will announce the arrival of the new direction; and the answers to a questionnaire will help with the larger program she is working on as an economic development strategy.

“We just brought economic development in house, it’s a good opportunity in developing a new economic development program to check in the business community as one of the first steps,” she said. “We are developing an economic development strategy for the city, and so to inform that strategy it makes sense to go and check in with the business community early on, to help open up and inform that strategy with good information.”

A team of about a dozen walkers will roll out in small groups across Terrace and Thornhill on February 17, 2016.

Armed with the questionaire, they will be asking what are the successes, challenges and needs of the local business community.

“We all have a role to play in supporting business,” says Myles.

Myles is also spearheading consultation with the public and local businesses and then producing an updated version of the Economic Development Strategy.

Myles is planning a series of meetings that will focus on business service organizations, tourism and investment attraction.

The new plan is aiming to promote a buy-local mindset and points out that the number of businesses here is on the rise, with 1,246 registered businesses in 2015, a 10 per cent rise over 2014.

Fostering local business seems one of the main focuses, and also attracting investment to the Skeena Industrial Development Park on Hwy37 South.

Other key parts of the plan include further branding the city, dealing with contaminated sites and representation of the city on the Kermodei Tourism Society board.

Another key strategy is continuing consultations with the First Nations, with meetings continuing on this front as well. Of note, Myles plans to “establish regular, periodic meetings with both Kitsumkalum and Kitselas at both the staff and council levels, to fully implement the government to government relationship commitments as outlined in the cooperation protocol agreements. It’s really just going another step,” she said. Myles expect to have a first version of the plan done by early spring.