The Buzz starts out with a fast-forward look at what the months ahead could bring the local economy, now that provincial health orders have been lifted.
“The end of the orders is awesome news,” says Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce boss Tom Thomson, “the last few years have really been hell for a lot of businesses, and their customers too.”
But, like many of the nation’s economic experts, the local Chamber boss warns that we are still treading uncertain ground.
“The pandemic has eased, but there’s still a lot recovery for many folks,” says Thomson, “for at least the next 12 to 14 months.”
Thomson, who’s been with the Chamber for 15 years, says businesses now have some clarity on the future but cautions that there “won’t be an instant return to profitability for businesses.”
Congrats to Arcel Mapa and Themis Silva.
The local businessmen and their families are soon celebrating the one-year anniversary of their purchase of KC Restaurant.
The pair bought the Baker Street mainstay last May from Russell Mah. Mah knew Mapa had experience from one of the Philippines’ popular restaurant chains, and approached him when he was looking to sell.
Silva’s wife moved to town in 2005, and he followed in 2010. Together the new owners have broadened up KC’s menu — popular for Japanese, Chinese and Thai dishes — to include Philippine dishes too. You can check out the latest line up at kcrestaurantltd.com.
What a win for local cannabis industry software company CertiCraft.
Last week, the business landed $150,000 in investment fund support from Accelerate Okanagan’s OKGN Angel Summit. Accelerate Okanagan is the equivalent of the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology — the difference being that the Okanagan has more millionaires per capita than any other part of the province, and a mountain of potential investment capital.
Noting that the company is looking for Kootenay investors as well, CEO Sami Majadla says the $150,000 will allow Certicraft to add sales and marketing pros to its staff of seven.
“We’ve never launched a traditional marketing campaign,” says Majadla, “this will lead to our first ever.”
Up until now, the company has landed business entirely through word of mouth.
“We’ve been focusing on sustainability and financial success — not just growing value, like some tech start-ups,” says Majadla.
“We’re all about having legitimate value, not just inflating share prices.”
Thirty-two Okanagan investors contributed to this year’s fund. They spent 10 weeks listening to pitches, conducting meetings and investigating the competing companies that were vying for the cash.
CertiCraft has produced compliance software that makes complicated reporting requirements for the cannabis industry easier for producers. Looking to invest? Contact email@example.com.
Back to Chamber goings-on … the economic recovery team there is garnering some timely insight into the challenges many of the city’s economic sectors are still seeing, through a series of roundtables that started last week.
Last week, a dozen of the city’s retailers took part in a 90-minute session, with another group submitting feedback via one-on-one interviews. The week before, the region’s hospitality business owners sat in on a sector update. Builders, trades and construction suppliers will hold a round table in April. Watch for the Zoom link, date and time from the Chamber soon. If you want to attend, reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Topics will include looming labour and workforce retention issues, rising costs due to minimum wage increases, legislated paid sick days, fuel and transportation, supply chains, taxation, downtown markets, and the ongoing issue of commercial recycling.
The most noteworthy economic up-trend as of late is the return of job-seekers. Canada’s unemployment rate fell in February to its lowest point since before the pandemic. The bigger issue though is the availability of housing, or lack thereof. Some employers are purchasing homes or condos for staff to rent.
On the lighter side, mark March 31 (which could be today, in fact) on your calendar if you’re up for a beer and laugh with fellow business buds. The Chamber’s next Business After Business event and Annual General Meeting takes place at the Adventure Hotel Thursday, March 31 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. replete with complimentary beverage and appies.
Lastly, some numbers worth considering. There are literally still billions in federal coffers left for pandemic relief. Local MLA Brittny Anderson says that over five million dollars in grants have been distributed to help small businesses in Nelson-Creston adapt and/or recover. They were mostly given out through the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant and Circuit Breaker Grant. In total the programs invested more than $530 million for nearly 30,000 businesses across the province.
That’s it for this month everyone — see you in a month.