The County of Grande Prairie is looking to once again meet with local businesses to evaluate some of the struggles and opportunities for improvement within the region. The interviews are a continuation of the Business Retention and Expansion Study which was initially conducted at the end of 2019.
Christopher King, County of Grande Prairie Economic Development Manager, says the idea, though it has had to adapt to the times, is to review the state of businesses and gauge what their plans are going forward.
“Obviously with COVID-19 we’ve handled things a little bit differently but the idea is to identify those businesses that maybe are looking at expansion opportunities, or growth opportunities, or maybe even those that are struggling a little bit and are considering downsizing or closing,” he explains.
In 2019, the survey found that roughly 98 per cent of businesses in the County were satisfied with their location as a place to do business. Factors that received the highest rates of satisfaction were the availability of appropriate work-related training, zoning, availability of property for purchase or lease, and availability of adequate housing and development/building permit process.
King says the survey didn’t come back all sunshine and roses, as many businesses shared prominent concerns regarding what they believed was sorely lacking within the County.
“Skilled labour, issues related to internet [and] cell phone reception, came out as some of the least satisfying factors of doing business in the county and Council has taken note of that,” he says.
“Communications work on fibre-optics and cell phones have been jumped up as strategic priorities for Council.”
Any findings from the 2020 study will be published by the County later in the year. Details from the survey conducted last year is also available online.