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Despite some uncertainty about the economy, more than half of local business leaders in Campbell River expect their businesses to perform better financially in 2017, and about four in 10 businesses plan to hire additional employees.
These were among the key findings of the first MNP Campbell River Business Leaders Survey, conducted in partnership by the accounting and consulting firm MNP and the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce. Results of the survey were released on March 23 at a sold-out economic outlook breakfast hosted by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce.
Modelled after similar surveys conducted by MNP in other communities across Canada, the results provide an economic snapshot on a range of topics including business climate, economic outlook, hiring intentions, growth expectations, key challenges and other local issues.
A total of 200 local business leaders were polled by phone between Jan 12-27. Respondents included business owners, CEOs, presidents, executive directors and designated senior corporate officers across all industry sectors in Campbell River and the surrounding regional district areas.
“This was our first year completing the survey in Campbell River, so it provides an important benchmark for future surveys,” said Brad Piercy, a partner with MNP in Campbell River. “While there are some clear areas of concern among local business leaders, the overall outlook is cautiously optimistic.”
Look back at the past 12 months, about half (51%) of respondents reported that the financial performance of their business improved in 2016. Three in 10 businesses said they hired additional employees last year.
Uncertainty about the economy ranked as the top challenge facing local businesses in 2017. Specific concerns varied widely from the impact on local businesses when major projects such at the John Hart Project and the North Island Hospitals Project wind down, to broader economic concerns such as the fluctuating Canadian dollar and the potential impact of international trade barriers on the resource sector.
Other notable challenges for business leaders included finding and keeping the right employees, and managing their time and workload.
Looking ahead, half of respondents said they plan to grow and expand their business in the next five years, while one-third expect no significant change in their operations. A number of business leaders plan to exit their businesses in the next five years, either by selling to a third party (9%), transitioning the business to a family member (3%), selling to employees (0.5%) or simply closing the business (2%).
Asked how the federal, provincial and local governments are doing at creating a good business climate, local government rated most positively. However, survey respondents said there is still room to improve, citing the need to cut bureaucracy (18%), lower taxes (15%) and attract new businesses and jobs to Campbell River (12%) as the top recommendations for local government.
Chamber CEO Colleen Evans noted the survey is one of several initiatives the organization has undertaken to stay focused on the current and future needs of local businesses.
“A core strength of the Campbell River Chamber is that we provide ongoing access to timely, relevant local data that we gather through the surveys, business walks, focus groups and roundtables that we host on a regular basis,” said Evans. “We ask relevant and important questions to be able to share information about what’s on the mind of Campbell River businesses and what matters most to businesses in our community.”
The Chamber of Commerce and MNP plan to repeat the survey in two or three years to see what’s changed. But the immediate focus will be to work with local business leaders to address their primary areas of concern and support those that want to grow.
“As follow up to the business leaders survey, the Chamber will be hosting industry sector roundtables on May 11th and October 17th,” stated Corby Lamb, Chamber Board Chair. “These roundtables will build on the survey results by creating new opportunities for businesses to participate in sector specific discussions. The data shared in those roundtables will be leveraged by the Chamber and our community partners, to further help local businesses thrive and prosper.”
For more information, contact Peter van Dongen, Regional Marketing Manager, Vancouver Island & Northern BC, MNP LLP, at 250.734.4321 or
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