As the pandemic has dragged on, conversations about the future of business have become more common, more numerous and more intense than any time I can remember. I can’t tell you how many times the topic of “the future of business” has been on the agenda for the hundreds of Zoom meetings I’ve attended since March of 2020. The concern is well-founded, and the conversations are important. As the pandemic has worn on (and on,) we’ve searched for a clear roadmap out of these uncertain times and back into a world of business that we can plan for and navigate with success. The theme of this year’s Progress Magazine is connect, innovate and grow. To me, these three words form more than a business magazine catchphrase. They form the basis of a way forward from the pandemic.
I became vital early on in the pandemic for businesses to find ways to connect with customers. That remains true two years later, but a key dimension has evolved. Businesses need to remain connected not only with customers, but with employees, too. Restrictions and closures of varying type and duration introduced additional difficulty into a labour market that was already problematic. As we at Venture Kamloops talk to hundreds of local businesses, it’s become clear that those who have weathered the pandemic and are looking to the future have maintained active relationships with their staff. Providing employees with flexibility in scheduling and even location if possible are key factors in retaining good staff.
Innovation comes in many, many forms. The businesses we work with not only embraced innovation during the pandemic, but the ones who have maintained success have done more that just embrace innovation as a concept – they’ve actively sought out ways in innovate. There is a huge difference between the two. Businesses that have met the challenges of the pandemic head on with new and innovative ideas not only found away through the last two years, but they’ve discovered ways of making their businesses more efficient, effective and stable. I’m happy to report that Kamloops is home to thousands of businesses that did exactly that since the world changed in 2020.
If connection and innovation were necessities during the pandemic, then growth is a necessary aspect of business life after the pandemic. The Kamloops businesses that we work with at Venture Kamloops have positioned themselves well. The changes they’ve made over the last two years not only got them through the toughest of times, but also made them ready to thrive. We’re experiencing a local business boom. We’ve set monthly records for the number of new business licenses almost each and every month through 2020 and 2021. The number of existing Kamloops businesses that are ready to expand and seek help from Venture Kamloops has essentially doubled from pre-pandemic levels. There is a surge in interest from outside the city as well. This will only intensify as new census data has identified Kamloops as one of the fastest growing centres in the province.
To me, there is no doubt that the connections and innovations undertaken by Kamloops businesses during the pandemic have positioned us well. I’m anxiously looking forward to the growth and success of our city as we emerge – finally – from the pandemic.
Jim Anderson is executive director of Venture Kamloops.