Creston Town Hall is located at 238 10th Ave. N.

Creston Town Hall is located at 238 10th Ave. N.

Ninety-four percent of downtown Creston business owners have positive outlook

Web Lead

  • Aug. 15, 2015 4:00 p.m.

Kim Goodall of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training appeared before Creston town council at the Aug. 11 regular meeting to give an update on the Business Walk program, a partnership between the ministry, the Town of Creston and the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce.

She and 20 volunteers visited 68 downtown businesses, which employ a total of 457 people, during the May 25 session.

“It was really a wonderful opportunity for me as I am passionate about small business,” Goodall said.

She said 94 per cent of business owners have a positive outlook, and 58 per cent said business is good or increasing, a higher percentage than the three other communities Goodall has visited with Business Walk.

Volunteers found that a number of businesses wanted more parking, and after discussion, “we found that what they really were wanting was more handicapped access to their business,” Goodall said.

Town manager Lou Varela said that additional handicapped spaces have since been added in response to the concern.

Of concern, Goodall said, 41 per cent of business owners — well above the provincial average of 30 per cent — plan to sell or retire by 2020, and 12 of those have no serious plan for their businesses to continue.

“We really don’t want to have 12 storefronts empty,” she said.

A definite positive that came out the event is that it helped businesses band together. Some groups wanted to improve marketing, and a group is getting together in September to discuss it.

“It was some nice low-hanging fruit, and we were able to identify that and work on it in a month,” said Jim Jacobsen, executive director of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce.

A second phase is planned for this fall, and an agricultural phase is slated for November and December.