Is Summerland open for business?

The latest council meeting brought news of a Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Development. This is encouraging.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my frustration with our municipal council and their priorities so far.

I received lots of feedback. Most was positive.

I think I struck a nerve with a few, which is okay.

The latest council meeting brought news of a Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Development.

This is encouraging.

I hope they have a clear mandate and the backing of council to set priorities, set a course and get things done.

When I walk around Summerland, I’m always struck with how beautiful it is.

I’m surprised more retail businesses aren’t clamouring to find a spot to open. Which leads me to the question, are we open for business?

Does our economic development team encourage and help businesses open?

Beyond administering the charge for the business license, what does city hall do to encourage new business?

This last week was Small Business Week and I had the pleasure of attending a business after business event at the Summerland Credit Union.

They had a mini trade show set up, with several small business vendors ranging from a winery to a mushroom farmer.

It was fascinating to see these people demonstrating their ingenuity.

I spoke to a local restauranteur from Penticton.

When I suggested he open a second location here (something I do frequently) he gave me a scared look.

Do we scare away new business?

If we treat new business the same way we are treating Dollarama, I think I can see the issue.

Here is a business that spent considerable money to renovate a vacant building and employ local people with retail jobs.

They do happen to be around the corner from another dollar store and that has people upset. How dare they!

Following that logic, we should probably protest CIBC and Bank of Montreal from being too close to one another. Also Pharmasave and the Medicine Centre.

In other cities, competitors like to be close to each other to feed off the same traffic.

That’s why you see clusters of car dealers, furniture stores, restaurants.

Not in Summerland though.

We like our businesses to keep a safe distance.

No competition allowed with in a four-block radius.

We should be thrilled that a new business picked Summerland to invest.

I hope that encourages others to do the same. I’ve been keeping a list.

We could use a shoe store. That would be nice.

A men’s wear store would be handy or perhaps a furniture store, even better!

If I could make a special request, I would like a diner, with a long counter, flat iron burgers and milkshakes.

Anything we can do to encourage investment and expansion should be a clear priority.

So if your name is hand-picked by our mayor for this task force, that is your mission.

Get in the driver’s seat and let’s chase down some new business.

Take a page from Penticton and create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.

Or perhaps we just need to put “We Are Open” on those nice new signs on the highway.

Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.