In a region where the economy has traditionally been subject to the ups and downs of resource-based industries, small businesses remain the mainstay of northwestern B.C. communities. And in good times as well as bad, that’s demonstrated by their resilience and connection to those communities.
It’s also the strong message coming from the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce this year in tune with Oct. 16-22 being Small Business Week.
“They make the city viable,” says Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce president Val Gauvin of the local small business community.
“Large corporations come and go. They tend to come back when things are better,” she said. “But it’s the small businesses that stay. They are the backbone of our community. Their owners live here.”
That’s not to say small businesses don’t have their own challenges, adds Gauvin, mentioning taxation as being one of those, but their commitment to the community and its various activities is constant.
Those businesses also have a voice in the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce, notes Gauvin and its executive director Erika Magnuson-Ford.
And the more small businesses that join, the stronger their collective voice becomes through the organization.
As it is, small businesses make up more than 80 per cent of the chamber’s existing membership of 275.
“The majority of that is in the retail and the service sector,” said Magnuson-Ford.
“And we’ve just had a bed and breakfast sign up that just opened up,” she added as an example of the growing diversity of chamber membership.
One of the benefits a small business can enjoy immediately upon joining the chamber is its networking opportunities through various events.
Attending monthly chamber luncheons and functions such as Business After Hours means small businesses readily have access to other small businesses.
And that means that small businesses can benefit from expanded business opportunities or they can simply exchange ideas, says Gauvin.
Small businesses also have access to services they might not otherwise afford, she adds.
One of those services, through the chamber’s own membership in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is a benefits plan for business owners and their employees.
“Small business often can’t afford benefits plans of their own – and you know how expensive those can be. They can cost an arm and a leg,” said Gauvin.
“By becoming a member they have access to a benefits plan.”
Additionally, small businesses can have a group voice through the chamber in dealings with governments and larger businesses.
Locally the chamber has made representations to governments regarding local and province-wide taxation.
One example is the current system of taxing properties for major health care projects such as hospital construction. The Lower Mainland is exempt from that kind of property taxation and the local chamber had a resolution passed at this year’s annual conference of B.C. chambers of commerce to end that exemption, making it a more equitable tax when applied across the province.
When it comes to local issues, the local chamber has been advocating to get the downtown core to be spruced up, something the city now says it will take into consideration in preparing its 2017 budget
SOURCE: Terrace Standard