Prince George a great place to do business, city survey finds

The vast majority of local entrepreneurs who responded to a survey say Prince George is a "good or excellent place" to run a business, according to results released Thursday by the city.

In all, 87 per cent of the 47 businesses who participated gave the city that rating, prompting city economic development manager Melissa Barcellos to call the outcome a "strong endorsement for the local business climate."

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She also noted that 80 per cent said they thought the business climate was better today than five years ago, and 77 per cent said they believed the business climate would be even better five years from now, "which indicates confidence in the economy and market conditions."

The findings are presented in the 2018 Business Insights Report.

"These surveys are conducted every two years and are a means to identify key indicators of the challenges and opportunities businesses are facing," Barcellos said.

Access to qualified labour was identified as the biggest potential barrier to expansion with

many saying that while the number of unfilled positions was stable, a significantly greater number in 2018 indicated they are having more trouble filling positions.

The businesses surveyed represent a diverse range of employment sectors and representing companies of all sizes, according to the city.

Other highlights of the report:

- More than half of companies interviewed indicated that they have increased employment levels over the past three years - 22 percent higher than in 2016.

- Two-thirds of companies said they expect an increase in full-time staff over the next three years.

Nearly 60 percent of companies reported that they have unfilled positions.

- Nearly two-thirds of companies said that they were aware of trends, technologies, or other changes in their industry that will require new skills. Examples of these skills include virtual reality, social media, artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart technologies.

- More than two-thirds of companies are anticipating their sales will increase over the next year.

- Three-quarters of companies said that the market for their product or service was increasing. - Half of the companies identified growth in the local market, one third named the regional or BC market, while ten percent named opportunities in the Canadian or US market.

- Most companies (64 percent) said that their market share was increasing - a marked difference from 2016 when only six percent of companies indicated this.

- One-third of businesses are planning to expand in the next three years. All of those companies said that they would be expanding in Prince George, and most said that their current site was not adequate for expansion.

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