AWARD-WINNING PROGRAM FOCUSES ON GROWTH SOLUTIONS FOR CENTRAL OKANAGAN BUSINESSES

The 4th Annual Central Okanagan Business Walk will help launch Small Business Month in the Central Okanagan with over 70 volunteer “Walkers” representing business stakeholder organizations throughout the Region ready to hit the pavement and connect with up to 400 businesses. The walk takes place from 9 am to 12 noon in Lake Country, Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna and Peachland.

Since the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC) introduced the Business Walk to Canada in 2012, the program has become a model for more than 15 communities in BC and Alberta which have since conducted Business Walks. The COEDC Business Walk was awarded Community Project of the Year from the British Columbia Economic Development Association of BC (BCEDA) in 2012 and is recognized as an Economic Development Best Practice by the Provincial Government.

Powered by the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, the program is a partnership between COEDC, municipalities, Westbank First Nation, business improvement associations, Chambers of Commerce/Boards of Trade and other stakeholder organizations that support the Central Okanagan business community.

Through a brief conversational survey, the Business Walk gathers important information that identifies program and service opportunities aimed at helping Central Okanagan businesses grow. This year’s Walk will include questions about employee retention and recruitment challenges, an increasing area of need in many parts of Canada. The COEDC conducted a human resources-focussed Business Walk to 50 Central Okanagan manufacturers in April of this year, and will conduct another HR-specific Walk to 50 tourism/hospitality businesses in November, 2015.

To date, more than 1200 Central Okanagan businesses have participated in the Central Okanagan Business Walk program. One-on-one follow up assistance has been provided to 160 businesses related to such topics as signage, zoning, parking, exporting and B2B connections. Barriers to conducting business and program opportunities have been communicated to municipalities, Chambers of Commerce and Business Improvement areas throughout the region.

Business owners and managers are encouraged to be at their business the morning of October 1st when the Business Walk teams are out. By taking the time to answer just a few brief questions, you will be providing valuable information that can make a difference to your business community.

Tracey Fredrickson

Business Walks Coordinator

(250) 470-7838

tfredrickson@investkelowna.com