Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce is forecasting an upward trend as local business slowly returns to normal after two years of a pandemic.
Executive director Tom Thomson says businesses are starting to bounce back but they still remain cautious especially with the remaining challenges.
“From a business perspective things got a little bit better in 2022,” Thomson says. “There are a number of people who are still struggling a little bit with cost of living, cost of doing business, inflation, fuel prices, supply chain.
“There is a labour crunch right now. Things are improving but they are not back to pre-pandemic levels.”
Thomson credits Selkirk College, and the federal government, for the slight improvement in the labor shortage with the influx of international students and immigration to the area.
“We’d like to continue to see increased immigration opportunities whether it is through Selkirk College or the federal government,” he says. “I think the feds understand the need because of an aging population to increase immigration levels.
“One of the benefits is that it helps out with the labour crunch, but the problem is there usually isn’t funding attached for housing to accommodate the increase in numbers.”
According to Thomson, businesses are seeing some recovery. Tourism around the region has started to see an increase as travel restrictions have been lifted, but he says they still have a long way to go.
“As restrictions were lifted our visitor’s center and accommodators were starting to see a lot more people coming in,” he says. “Even right now, during the ski season, although it is not spectacular conditions we are still seeing people come up to the region.
“The accommodators are certainly looking forward to a busy spring and 2023 summer.”
Thomson says the chamber is going to build on a new foundation that has been laid during the past year and they have an optimistic outlook going forward.
“The local businesses are looking forward with some cautious optimism,” he says. “They are looking for some increased sales, and if they can get through the labour crunch that would be very helpful.”
He says the chamber is always going to stand behind business in the region as they continue to navigate through the continued challenges.
“We’ll continue to work with local, regional, provincial and federal governments to try and provide support that is necessary to local business to not only survive but also thrive going forward,” he says.