Venture Kamloops says amount of new businesses 'incredible' despite pandemic

New business boom in city

An entrepreneurship “boom” is taking place in the City of Kamloops despite impacts of the pandemic, according to Venture Kamloops, the economic development arm of the city.

Jim Anderson, Venture Kamloops’ executive director and Brent Hasanen, president, appeared before council Tuesday, presenting updates to the organization's strategic plan and highlighting key economic trends for the city.

Anderson said business licenses continue to be issued at a record-breaking rate month after month.

“It’s incredible the new businesses that are coming. In 2021, we will shatter the previous number of startup businesses that we work with,” Anderson said.

“It's been incredible to see the entrepreneurial mindset that exists and the willingness to take advantage of new opportunities in the face of what seems like disarray. it’s been incredibly rewarding and interesting as well, just from an economic development standpoint.”

Anderson said business owners and employers are engaging with Venture Kamloops at an “unprecedented” rate.

According to data from Venture Kamloops, so far in 2021, the organization has helped 324 businesses over 442 sessions in the areas of expansion, startup and attraction.

“We’re doing double the work we did pre-pandemic, in many cases. The reach we are having to businesses that are not necessarily experiencing pandemic-specific issues continues to grow, the vibrancy of the economy is startling at times,” Anderson said.

“Suffice to say, it’s been incredibly busy.”

Anderson said a main challenge for Kamloops businesses continues to be a shortage of workers.

He said a labour market study done by Venture Kamloops in 2015 predicted that by 2025, the region would see a shortage of 10,000 workers.

“If you look at that 2015 report, there is no mention of a pandemic. Put that into the mix and the shortage has intensified to the point where it is causing an effect on day-to-day business on the store fronts in Kamloops. So we're working very diligently on that,” Anderson said.

Anderson said workforce development took a hit as pandemic travel restrictions impacted international immigration programs tied to employment, but these programs are now “back on track.”

He said Venture Kamloops has signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government to help refer employers to federal programs, bridging the workforce gap with new immigrants.

“We are currently curating the resources that are available to employers and candidates, and we're bringing in Kamloops employers to do test runs through programs to ensure that we understand how the programs work, that they're effective, that the employers know how to run them, that we can go and offer them more wisely,” Anderson said.

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