BUSINESS BUZZ: Nelson businesses keep going despite difficult times

While many businesses have laid employees off, some are still trying to offer products and services

By Darren Davidson

A considerable number of Nelson businesses are doing what they can to keep at it during these tough times.

Speaking on Kootenay Co-op Radio’s morning program this week, Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson estimated roughly 200 local business are either allowing customers in for direct purchases and delivery-based drops offs, or offering their products and services online.

“We have to take our hats off to those business owners and staff who are still doing what they can,” says Thomson, “and keep in mind those shops and stores that are open are adhering to very strict B.C. health guidelines in regards to the safety of their customers and staff.”

The Nelson Fire Department conducted health inspections of all the grocery stores in town last week and found all in compliance with the province’s new COVID-19 health guidelines.

Thomson suggests local business owners monitor bi-weekly economic “pulse checks” being shared via the platform. Those include regular surveys of the province’s small business sector.

The latest survey shows that 23 per cent of BC businesses have pivoted to on-line, digital, or e-commerce options.

Other stats are a little more daunting, understandably.

The latest survey shows nearly one-third of B.C. businesses plan to cancel or have had contracts or tenders cancelled, while a quarter will defer or cancel capital projects in the next two weeks.

• Among those laying off staff, on average, organizations have laid off 43 employees. As B.C. businesses tend to be skewed to smaller businesses (fewer than 20 employees), the median or midpoint is much lower, at five employees.

• More than 50 per cent of businesses are concerned they will be insolvent or not have the fiscal capacity to restart their business.

• Businesses tend to expect the economic rebound in their market will be slow (55 per cent versus 14 per cent fast) but a sizable group is unsure (31 per cent).

Those surveys are conducted by members of the BC Chamber of Commerce, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce and its regional chamber network, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and the Business Council of British Columbia, with the assistance of the Mustel Group.

What kind of help are BC businesses asking the federal and provincial governments for? This is what the latest survey results show.

From Ottawa:

• Provide direct payments to affected businesses (56 per cent).

• Immediately reduce rates for EI, company taxes, personal tax, GST, other government imposed levies or charges (42 per cent).

• Ensure that critical supply chains are able to function (32 per cent).

• Ensure that credit markets and the financial system continue to function (33 per cent).

And from Victoria:

• Further reduce tax rates and defer payments facing B.C. businesses and households (57 per cent).

• Consider remedies for businesses not able to pay rent in collaboration with property owners and tenants (42 per cent).

• Provide direct support to B.C. industry sectors that are being particularly affected by the pandemic crisis (46 per cent).

Do what you can to support your local businesses folks. They need us.

Community Futures Central Kootenay is stepping up to help businesses and communities through the COVID crisis. They’ve been curating business resources, hosting business round tables, expanding the business loans program, and providing free business advice to business owners.

There’s also a Facebook group, COVID-19 Support for Kootenay Businesses, a platform for business owners to ask questions and find resources. To attend the roundtable, email or visit

Stay safe and kind out there everyone.


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