Business study praises Kamloops

'There is growth and optimism about the state of business in the region,' Venture Kamloops study says

Kamloops is living up to its reputation as a good place to do business, according to an in-depth study by Venture Kamloops.

The economic development arm of the City of Kamloops interviewed and surveyed more than 70 businesses across all sectors over four months in 2012-2013.

Results indicate a high level of confidence among companies, but some issues are still hindering progress.

An overarching theme of the 73-page report coming out of the study is that local businesses successfully weathered the stormy economy of the past five years.

"Many companies are already getting back to pre-2008 levels of exceeding them," states the report. ". . . there is growth and optimism about the state of business in the region."

According to the survey's statistics, 91 per cent of companies are expecting positive sales increases over the coming year.

Outside pressures, however, are still bearing down - especially on the trades sector, which can't grow because it's constantly struggling to find skilled labourers.

"There simply are not enough tradespeople to fill all of the job postings in Kamloops and as a result, there is constant poaching between companies," states the report.

Venture Kamloops attempts to help by working with federal and provincial government programs aimed at attracting foreign workers.

It also collaborates with Thompson Rivers University through student and employee programs and other joint initiatives.

The study showed that TRU is seen as a positive contributor to local businesses.

"Respondents feel that the university is not only shaping the growth of Kamloops but is also proactively adapting and striving to work with the business community," states the report.

Another crucial aspect of the city's attractiveness is its layout and infrastructure, including IT accessibility. Its advantageous location with five major highways and both major railways was also a plus.

Site development and building permitting is typically a highly contentious issue in most towns and cities. But local developers don't appear quite as frustrated, with 52 per cent feeling somewhere between neutral (33 per cent) and very satisfied (8.3 per cent).

"A handful of respondents mentioned (City of Kamloops chief administrative officer) David Trawin as a very positive driving force during his time (as City of Kamloops development and engineering services director)," states the report.

Municipal taxation, however, may be a stumbling block.

Thirty per cent of those surveyed were dissatisfied with industrial tax rates while 30 per cent said they were satisfied.

". . . rate payers in Kamloops are generally not happy with the industrial tax rate," states the report. "This was certainly a theme that was also captured qualitatively time and time again."

The commercial tax structure seemed acceptable to most with 34 per cent feeling satisfied and 30 per cent feeling neutral.

But the report pointed out that a number of respondents "felt very strongly" otherwise. The negative responses most often came from people running similar operations elsewhere and thus could make comparisons.

Among its recommendations, Venture Kamloops suggests that the City compare its tax structure to other B.C. municipalities.

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