LCIC hosts business forum in Fruitvale

Tonight at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall at 7 p.m., the LCIC will unveil the results of its business retention and expansion project.

It was an expansive project and long time coming, but the results are finally in.

Tonight at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall, open to the public at 7 p.m., the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) will unveil the results of its year long business retention and expansion project.

“We’ve completed 147 interviews and processed all that information,” said Terry Van Horn, LCIC coordinator.

“Now we are rolling it out to you.”

Included in the study are existing businesses in the communities of Trail, Rossland, Fruitvale, Montrose and Warfield.

Van Horn said that process itself was extensive and initially she was met with some resistance by a few of the local businesses.

“So many times we heard, “oh yeah another survey that nothing is going to get done about,”” she said.

“We heard, “why should we help you?””

Van Horn explained that the LCIC made a commitment to the business owners that they would host a series of forums to present and discuss the results of its 97-question survey.

“We are committed to report all our findings to the business community and public,” explained Van Horn.

“And then we are going to take the recommendations and incorporate them into future initiatives so the businesses can continue to prosper.”

The business retention and expansion survey is intended to provide an in-depth view of business sectors; current climate of business development; anticipated future growth; barriers to growth; and a basis for future economic development strategies.

Although businesses in the region are planning significant investment, $60 million, over the next five years, a lack of skilled staff was commonly cited as a barrier to its expansion.

In addition, many respondents reported issues with retaining employees and that recruitment of new employees proved to be a challenge.

“We heard a lot about the challenges businesses had with recruiting people with specific skills,” said Van Horn.

“And we heard a lot about bringing in skilled guys and then having them jump ship.”

Those key themes will be discussed during the presentation as well as the next steps to build momentum and a sense of success to carry out long-term actions.