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Residents asked to weigh in on local economic development

A new economic development initiative has Castlegar and area residents completing an online survey outlining their priorities and needs in terms of retail and service businesses in our area.

Mark Laver was hired on as Economic Development Manager two months ago in a joint venture between the City of Castlegar, CBT and RDCK Areas I and J, with a goal to retain and expand local businesses while attracting new ventures to the region.

To that end, Laver has posted a survey on Survey Monkey that he said all residents are welcome to complete.

“The purpose of the survey is to identify the gaps in the local economy, mostly from a retail/service perspective,” said Laver, who moved here with his family from Calgary to accept the newly-created position. “That then allows me to focus my efforts from a (business) attraction perspective.”

He said he hopes a significant number of residents participate, as that will provide important data in moving forward and guiding local commercial development.

“I see opportunity everywhere here – buildings available for lease, newly proposed developments,” Laver said. “One of the things that struck me when I first came here was the number of vehicles on Columbia Avenue.”

He said this kind of traffic can be excellent in generating drive-by customers, which can be critical to many companies in the retail/service sector.

“Once we’ve identified what there’s a need for, we can reach out to similar businesses in other locations,” he said.

The survey information will also create a baseline to establish targeted promotion for outside investment in the area.

To complete the survey, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SXVDBZK  , or Laver said he can print off a hard copy and enter the data for anyone who visits his office in the Chamber of Commerce building.