Northern B.C. small towns have made the shortlist for this year's provincial Open For Business Awards.
Prince George was not on the list (it was a winner last year) but surrounding communities put the region in the running. Fort St. James and Valemount were named as finalists, in contention with Central Saanich, Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Kelowna, Lake Country, Langley, Peachland, Pemberton, Penticton, Pitt Meadows, Rossland, Squamish, and Vernon.
The awards are administrated by B.C.'s Small Business Roundtable (BCSBR), the intermediary organization between the small business sector and the provincial government. These awards are recognition for the communities that, in the eyes of the roundtable members, best demonstrate small business support through local government measures.
"This year, the roundtable received submissions from 39 communities with award evaluations based on how they enhance small-business competitiveness, recognize the contributions of small businesses to the community, and promote the principles of the BC Small Business
Accord," said a joint statement from Naomi Yamamoto, minister for small business, and roundtable director Ian Tostenson on behalf of the BCSBR.
Northern members of the board include Burns Lake's Kelly McCormack plus MaryAnne Arcand and Garth Frizzell from Prince George.
"Small businesses are the heart and soul of B.C. communities. It is satisfying to see these communities make small business a priority," said Yamamoto.
"We had the most applications to date for this year's Open for Business Awards and there was an incredible diversity of ideas in the applications," said Tostenson. "It's great to see municipalities recognizing the critical importance of small business, and I hope that the best practices highlighted by these awards will help other communities find ways to make sure their small business sector grows and thrives."
The winners will be announced during the Union of BC Municipalities convention on Sept. 19, held this year in Vancouver. Winning communities will receive a $10,000 grant to help implement measures that benefit small business.