The City of Grand Forks has been recognized by the province as one of 13 finalists for the 2014 Open for Business Awards, which recognize communities that support small business through local government measures aligned with the BC Small Business Accord.
“We’re very pleased to hear we’re being recognized by our peers in government,” said Mayor Brian Taylor. “You have to look at it as a collection of simultaneous actions—that’s what they’re really looking at. I think we’ve really filled that vision of what open for business is.”
Taylor said one of the big changes the City made earlier this year was to refer to residents as customers.
“For some it bothered them,” he said. “There was a bit of a pushback. But it carries an attitude with it that, ‘you pay the taxes—we’re here to make government work for you.’ I think that attitude permeated throughout our employee staffing and council as well.”
Taylor mentioned the Asset Management Program as another positive program undertaken by the City. Under that program is the City’s development showcase in which the City is putting up unused properties for sale.
“How long have we had some of these properties not doing anything for us?” he said. “They’re just sitting there; not generating tax or conveniencing any businesses.”
Taylor said economic development is also about the City providing a positive experience for those looking to develop in the area.
“The attitude from Doug Allin (City chief administrative officer) is that we can’t have our own red tape stand in the way of developers,” said Taylor. “When a developer comes into town and wants to spend money on a major project he has financing and cost associated with every day he’s help up. So if we have to meet in a special meeting to move things forward that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not going to be the slow down that’s going to impede developers or any business in this town.”
The Open for Business Awards are issued by the BC Small Business Roundtable, which was established in 2005 to be the voice of small business to government.
The roundtable helps government develop strategies to support the growth and success of small business throughout the province.
For the awards, the roundtable received submissions from all eight economic regions. The applications were evaluated based on how the communities enhance small business competitiveness, recognize the contributions of small businesses to the community and promote the principles of the BC Small Business Accord.
Other communities named as finalists are: Delta, Kelowna, Langley, Nelson, Parksville, Port Coquitlam, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Smithers, Surrey, Vernon and Whistler.
Each winning community receives an award of $10,000 to support the implementation of measures that benefit small business.
Winners will be announced on Sept. 24 at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Whistler.