Trail & District Chamber of Commerce Encourages Community to
#ThinkLocalFirst during Small Business Week
2020 Business Walk highlights adaptability as strength and challenge for local businesses
When the Charles Bailey Theatre had to cancel its spring/summer series due to COVID-19, it quickly poured its energy into a project supporting the local business community by creating and sharing video jingles.
Infinity Physio Centre in Rossland’s COVID Jingle “Let’s Get Physio,” inspired by Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical,” announced their reopening. But this catchy tune did more than entertain; it encouraged people to #ThinkLocalFirst.
During Small Business Week, the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) acknowledges the contributions entrepreneurs and small business owners make to the economy. The organization applauds local businesses for their ability to adapt to changing environments and new safety protocols, all while innovating their services or products for their communities and considering what’s best for the bottom line.
Out of the approximately 120 businesses that participated in last month’s 2020 Business Walk, nearly 50% noted adaptability as their most significant achievement so far this year; conversely, a number of those surveyed (15%) considered it their greatest challenge. Meeting obstacles with success speaks to the strength of the South Kootenay business community, which is home to 900 small and medium-sized businesses; collectively this employs the majority of area professionals, outweighing any large employer in the region.
The Chamber conducts the Business Walk as a means to build closer relationships and connect with its network of professionals. With its regular Business After Business events paused indefinitely, the Chamber initially helped host virtual gatherings like the South Kootenay COVID-19 Business Roundtable. As businesses reopened, they recognized the benefit of knocking on members’ doors.
“For us it’s that personal connection—that’s what the Business Walk is about,” explains Executive Director Erika Krest. “Nothing replaces personal connection; when you can read peoples’ expressions and have that extra nuance behind words, it’s very important.”
The annual initiative is encouraged around the province as a tool to facilitate conversations between local leaders and business owners. What’s learned is examined and turned into actionable solutions.
Survey results, for example, uncovered that while large organizations and franchises have succession and emergency plans in place, many smaller businesses hadn’t yet made that a priority. As a result, the Chamber is collaboratively working toward a local solution for business professionals who see value in developing these plans.
Despite strange times, local businesses across the region remain nimble, strong, and dedicated to serving the community, even if it’s from behind plexiglass or masked and smiling with their eyes.