Few of us ever would have believed that we would be looking back at 2021 as the second year of the global pandemic – and yet, here we are. This last 12 months has continued to test everyone, including Kamloops businesses. From restrictions of varying length and severity to total shutdowns, businesses have endured another year of uncertainty. Throughout these uncertain times, businesses have turned to Venture Kamloops in greater numbers than ever before. The interesting thing though, is that an overwhelming majority of the businesses who sought us out needed support in a new start-up or expanding an existing business.
In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, Venture Kamloops worked with 295 new clients that were looking for support to either start a new business or expand an existing one. At the time, that was by far and away a record for the organization. After 2020, a year when most client interactions were specifically centered around COVID, we once again saw record numbers of start-up and expansion clients. The final tally of 424 new clients smashes that 2019 record and tells a remarkable tale about businesses in Kamloops during the pandemic.
The trends identified in our day-to-day service delivery are borne out by more widely collected data. The surge in local business growth is confirmed when we compare the Venture Kamloops to the City of Kamloops business licensing records. The city reported 892 new licenses in 2021, shattering the total of any year in the past decade. Corroborating evidence is contained in just-released census data. Kamloops is identified as the third-fastest growing Census Metropolitan Area in Canada. These key indicators form a very clear picture of economic growth. This is reason for optimism, but it also presents challenges.
From the perspective of an Economic Development agency, a rapidly expanding local economy is a genuine reason to celebrate. But at the same time, a period of robust expansion requires a robust response from that local agency. To that end, we at Venture Kamloops have been intensely focused on the programs and services we deliver to new and expanding businesses. The tools and resources we use in our initial meetings with local entrepreneurs and businesses owners are subject to constant review and improvement. We’ve made changes to our Start Here client intake processes, our VK Venture Advisors program and updated our everyday tools like our Understanding Your Business document, which is essential for all new entrepreneurs.
The clear theme of my message this year is growth and change. The local economy is emerging from the circumstances of the pandemic – whether or not it is actually emerging from the pandemic. Venture Kamloops is committed to facilitating growth and addressing challenges. There is no question that uncertain times lay ahead, but our focus will remain on providing guidance and support to local businesses.
- Jim Anderson, Executive Director
The new Patient Care Tower at Royal Inland Hospital began construction, and aims to be ready for occupancy by 2021. At $417 million, it is the largest single construction project in Kamloops’ history.