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Finding solutions for small business growth

By Hannah Scott (Local Journalism Initiative reporter) and Don Fennell

Published 3:16 PDT, Tue October 13, 2020

Richmond-Steveston

Steveston is a historic fishing village filled with independent businesses. ‘Buy local’ is a value often embraced by Richmondites, and the variety of stores in Steveston—restaurants, boutiques, food vendors, and more—help make it possible.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses are experiencing unique challenges with rent, revenue and safety protocols. A number of provincial and federal programs offer financial relief for struggling businesses, but taking advantage of these has proved challenging for some.

Kelly Greene, the NDP candidate for the Richmond-Steveston riding, says if elected she would help local businesses access more social and economic supports.

“In addition to the (NDP’s) $300 million recovery grant, investments in community infrastructure, child care and healthcare will support our small businesses with additional growth opportunities,” says Greene. “As businesses relaunch, it will be key to stay aware for opportunities that may have been created from the change. The opportunities may come in the form of shifts in demand, adapting to new workforces, new methods of delivery, or increased scalability through digital tools; all of which will lead to revitalization of our small businesses as we move forward.”

Recently CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Matt Pitcairn replaces longtime incumbent John Yap (who chose to retire rather than seek re-election) as the BC Liberal candidate in the riding. Pitcairn says supporting small businesses and buying local is important, and the pandemic makes it more challenging for people to feel comfortable going out to support their local businesses—but that we need to continue to follow the advice of health officials. 

Pitcairn says the BC Liberals’ proposed PST cut will encourage people to “purchase locally, prompt people to spend, and spur businesses to make investments in 2021.”

“Next year is a make-or-break year for many of our small businesses as we try to recover from COVID-19,” he says. “A PST cut will also level the playing field between our local small businesses and some online retailers, which aren’t charging PST.”

Independent candidate Vince Li said education is key to ensuring people feel safe when trying to buy local.

All three candidates in the riding said innovation in business practices could help local vendors grow. Through the use of technology, temporary outdoor spaces and collaboration with local business organizations, the small businesses of Steveston may be able to find solutions to the unique challenges the pandemic has brought.

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