Dallas Crick of Century 21 and a director of the Uptown Rutland Business Association and the COEDC’s Krista Mallory (right) interview Joyce Van Norman at Hollywood Shoes in Rutland during Wednesday’s 2017 Business Walk.—Alistair Waters/Capital News

Annual Business Walk gathers info across Central Okanagan

The sixth annual walk saw interviewers pan out across the region to interview business operators.

The sixth annual Business Walk was held Wednesday to gauge the pulse of business throughout the Central Okanagan.

Teams of volunteer interviewers were dispatched to between 200 and 300 businesses in Kelowna, Lake Country, West Kelowna, Peachland and on the Westbank First Nation reserves to briefly talk with business owners and operators about how their businesses are doing, and what concerns and needs they have.

The snapshot provides information for local government, organizations and groups that in turn helps influence economic development plans in future.

The award-winning Business Walk program, which started here in 2012 but has been emulated in communities across the country since then, was started and is run by the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission and includes representatives from the COEDC, local government, the province, business organizations in the Central Okanagan and a host of other groups.

This year, walk organizers added questions about the impact of this spring and summer’s floods and fires, to gauge the impact they had on local business.

Another question asked during the brief discussions with local business operators was about recruitment and any difficulty in finding workers.

Joyce Van Norman, who along with her husband Dan own and operate Hollywood Shoes in the Hollywood Station Plaza in Rutland, said her store recently expanded and business has been good despite the impact of the floods and fire.

“We have a great location and we’re pretty busy,” she said.

She added she would like to see more businesses open up in the Rutland area, particularly larger “anchor” stores.

A few doors away, Shelly Burger of Specialty Bakery, echoed Van Norman’s sentiment.

She said the store is the second location for the popular local bakery and the move into Hollywood Plaza has been a good one for her business.

The information gathered from the business walks Wednesday morning will be compiled and shared with EDC partners, bringing any concerns or requests to the appropriate party’s attention, said the COEDC’s Krista Mallory, organizer of this year’s Business Walk.