When the City of Kimberley signed on to the Invest Kootenay program, a number of different opportunities and programs became available. Invest Kootenay provides resources, and a website, where potential investors can find business opportunities and community information to help them make investment decisions. Businesses for sale in member communities are detailed as are community profiles.
One of the services offered by Invest Kootenay is the Secret Investor Program. Much like a secret shopper program, the secret investor program sends someone to your community to assess how well a potential investor might do in gaining access to the information required by an investor and getting a general feel for the community’s attitude and spirit.
Essentially, the secret investor poses as a visitor who might want to purchase a business and relocate to a community.
Kimberley City Council received a secret investor assessment this past week from Invest Kootenay’s Gerri Brightwell.
Brightwell visited Kimberley and stopped at City Hall, Visitor Information, the Chamber office, the library and Kootenay Savings Credit Union. She also visited a hotel, a local tourist attraction, five retailers, two food and beverage businesses, two trade/construction businesses, one independent grocer and one realtor.
According to Brightwell, her overall impression was of “a community that is invigorated and optimistic, with a strong focus on the young families and individuals that are fueling its current small-business climate”.
“I did not have a single negative conversation, as each person I spoke to expressed enthusiasm about my intention to move to Kimberley and invest in a small business.”
Brightwell reported that she picked up several main themes in her conversations. First, she was told many times about a feeling of resurgence in the community in the past five years; the influx of young families and young entrepreneurs, and the energy and creativity they bring. She heard that Kimberley business people find rental rates, real estate and lifestyle cost-effective; that there is a strong community spirit and there is a hope for more business redevelopment downtown.
Another theme Brightwell heard is that, while tourist business is important, locals must support you in order for a business to succeed.
“Many people mentioned that locals were very supportive of the business community as long as the pricing was mid-range and a distinctive experience was offered.”
Overall, it was a positive experience, Brightwell reported.
Mayor Ron McRae was pleased with the report and said it, and the Chamber’s Business Survey released this week, are indicators that Kimberley’s economy is doing well.
“Both reports are absolutely excellent about business opportunities in Kimberley,” McRae said. “It kind of confirms what we have been saying for the past few years.”