2022 is behind us – are things back to normal? That is a question that we at Venture Kamloops ask ourselves everyday. In many ways, yes things are more normal in the Kamloops economy. But in many other ways, things are anything but what we have become accustomed to. This message marks the third successive Venture Kamloops Annual Report in which I’ve used the word “pandemic,” a term I don’t believe I’d ever written before March of 2020. But if we are to try and determine what is now normal for business, then this must be done in terms of the environment before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The same is true for our organization. Our programs are back up and running like they were pre-pandemic, and our day-to-day work lives differ little from what they were like in 2019. But there is a stark difference – the number of Kamloops business that seek out assistance from Venture Kamloops since the start of the pandemic has roughly doubled and shows no sign of diminishing. 2021 saw an all-time record for new VK clients. At 385, 2022’s number was just slightly off that record. Our local business support programs continue to run at full capacity. Local entrepreneurs are starting new businesses, expanding existing ones or, to use a phrase that has become (perhaps too) common, pivoting their operations in new directions. The volume of new clients over the past 3 years has forced us at VK to develop efficiencies that help us deliver effective support to any business in Kamloops in need of support. Our VK Start Here program completed its first full year of yet another phase of improvement and now offers referral access to a total of nine community partners and is an exceptional working collaboration between Kamloops business support organizations.
The easy access of the Start Here program, combined with the progressively customized and robust programs like VK Venture Advisors and VK Accelerate provide award-winning support to Kamloops businesses. For businesses not yet located in Kamloops, but considering our city as new market, VK has just completed its first full year of offering a completely re-vamped data platform that provides Kamloops-specific and regional data that offers the clearest possible economic picture on which business can base important decisions. Over the last three years, when in-person meetings were not possible, Venture Kamloops refined – once again – our customized reporting system for businesses with specific inquiries about the Kamloops market.
It is certainly true that the issues facing Kamloops businesses are not specific to the pandemic and that many businesses who suffered greatly during that time are now flourishing. And with Kamloops now recognized as one o the fastest growing centres in the country, businesses from elsewhere have taken a revived interest in the city. It’s important for Venture Kamloops to continue to offer support that makes Kamloops the best possible environment for business to happen – regardless of eventually turns out to be normal.
- Jim Anderson, Executive Director
Kamloops has an outlook for modest and consistent GDP growth of 2% annually to 2022, increasing from approximately $4.4 billion in 2018 and up to $4.8 billion in 2022.