Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold has recently asked members of the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce for input on the development of priorities for the village.
Strimbold solicited input during a chamber meeting on March 16, 2016, accompanied by Krystin Jean, Economic Development Officer for the Village of Burns Lake.
Participants were given seven priorities and were asked to decide which priorities were the most pressing for the village. Chamber members decided that ‘business retention and expansion’ was the most pressing priority, followed by ‘marketing and promotion’ and ‘infrastructure.’
Although participants discussed opportunities in the agriculture sector, agriculture was the least pressing priority to members of the chamber.
Participants were asked to reflect on how the village can attract more shoppers to town and encourage more people to shop locally.
Linda Uchacz, Owner of Yarn and Sew On, suggested creating a system of coupons in town.
“If different businesses in town had coupons, I would give them [tourists] a coupon for Grapevine or some other business so they can have a discount,” she explained. “This would encourage them [tourists] to visit other businesses in town.”
Uchacz added that it’s important for business owners to know what other businesses in town have to offer in order to recommend them to tourists.
“Then we would be working together to promote other businesses,” she said.
Participants also discussed marketing and promotion of the village.
Sean Broadworth, Owner of Free Growing Forestry, said the village should be taking more advantage of the mountain biking trails to promote Burns Lake.
“Burns Lake has an unbelievable world-class mountain biking trail; the Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association is doing everything they can to promote that, but the village is missing huge opportunity to promote that,” he said. “It brings people to town to spend money in hotels and stores.”
When it comes to workforce development, Broadworth said keeping a training facility in town is critical.
Business owners were also asked what strategies they use to introduce workers from out of town to people and activities in Burns Lake.
One participant said that there are key people in town for each activity – cross-country skiing, mountain biking, arts, etc – and that connecting workers with key people in town is the best way to introduce them to certain activities.
Among the difficulties that business owners in town face are communication services. Participants pointed out that Internet is not fast enough in some areas and that this creates limitations for their businesses. Participants also mentioned the difficulty they have in applying for grants to expand their businesses.
The village’s economic development plan was also addressed during the mayor’s breakfast event on March 17, 2016. Just like members of the chamber, participants decided that ‘business retention and expansion’ was the most pressing priority for the village and that ‘agriculture sector development’ was the least important priority on the list.
The information gathered at both meetings will be used by council to develop goals and objectives around the priorities.
According to the village, the economic development plan is expected to be adopted by council this spring and is expected to be implemented from 2016 to 2018.