It is likely of no surprise that Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services are the most represented sectors in the Basin-Boundary economy, but did you know that Professional, Scientific and Technical Services also plays a huge role in our economy (with Manufacturing following closely)? Or, that nearly half of the businesses surveyed in the Basin-Boundary region plan to expand within three years, representing over $420M in investment?
Between 2012 and 2015, the Rural Development Institute (RDI) supported Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) projects that collected data from almost 800 businesses in over 20 communities and sub-regions. These businesses represent employment for almost 16,000 people (total Kootenay employment is roughly 70,000). You can read all about the findings from the three year pilot in the RDI’s Report on Basin-Boundary Businesses: Winter 2016. “Data for this report was exported from our database last year. Since then we’ve worked with the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology on their ‘metals’ focused BRE in the Lower Columbia Region, and with the communities of Nelson and Revelstoke. We now have over 1000 businesses in our database and are currently supporting Creston and Fernie in their BRE efforts,” says Dr. MacDonald, Regional Innovation Chair at the RDI.
BRE is an action-oriented and community-based approach to business and economic development. It promotes job growth by helping communities to learn about the concerns of, as well as opportunities for, local businesses, and to set priorities for projects to address those needs. Topics include: community business environment, local workforce, sales patterns, facilities and investment plans, and business infrastructure.
“A regional analysis of BRE data is key in identifying some of those challenges and opportunities that are common across communities which often require a regional-scale response. Our regional scale work has garnered interest from both the Province of BC and the Province of Ontario.” says MacDonald. “In a rural context BRE efforts are also critical for researchers and practitioners as data related to our businesses is limited, especially at the community and sector levels.”