The local chamber of commerce wants to see Nelson become the most small business friendly municipality in BC.
Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson was at Monday’s city council meeting to explain steps the city could take to get there, beginning by supporting the goals in the BC Small Business Accord.
The accord lists six goals for governments to strive towards to be more business friendly, such as providing training programs, simplifying regulatory processes, creating opportunities through procurement policies and considering what impact policy decisions would have on small business.
“Nelson is doing a lot of this already, but there may be areas to improve,” Thomson said.
He provided council with a list of 19 Nelson-specific ways to improve business friendliness, which were developed in consultation with local business owners. Among the suggestions were creating a mobile business license, advocating for better airport service and using permissive tax exemptions as an incentive for downtown building owners who invest in facade improvements or other projects that will increase the taxable value of the building.
Thomson also suggested the city could do more to favour local business in its procurement practices. The city currently gives preference to local suppliers when sourcing products such as office supplies, while large contracts are bid on by companies across BC and Alberta. Thomson cited an example of a municipality that has a policy to award contracts to local businesses that come within five per cent of the most competitive bid.
“The taxpayers don’t mind spending a little more on a project when the money is supporting their local economy,” Thomson said.
Nelson council voted unanimously in support of adopting the goals of the Small Business Accord in principle. However, there was some concern that some of the goals were outside municipal jurisdiction.
Councillor Donna Macdonald asked if the document could be revised to focus more on steps a municipality could take. But city manager Kevin Cormack said it would be unlikely staff would find the time for such an undertaking before the end of the year.
Councillor Deb Kozak pointed out that they weren’t committing any city funds to fulfilling the goals and that the accord is more of a guiding document.
“I think supporting it makes a strong statement about who we are as a municipality,” Kozak said.
Last year there were 1,300 business licenses issued in the Nelson area, the majority of them going to small businesses (defined as having 50 employees or less) or mico-businesses (five employees or less). Last fall the Union Of BC Municipalities named Nelson among the seven most Most Small-Business Friendly Communities in the province.