One participating company used lessons learned from this program to pursue further growth strategies, which increased its workforce in Campbell River and Port McNeill from a few dozen employees to over 150 in less than four years.
Many small and medium-sized businesses lack the knowledge and resources to appropriately invest in productivity improvements. At the time of the project, in 2010, Campbell River was in the throes of a significant economic downturn. In particular, the forest industry experienced the loss of thousands of jobs due to the closure of the pulp mill and other regional sawmills. Supporting the growth and productivity of existing businesses was identified as one of the opportunities to mitigate and reverse the economic downturn.
The Business Development Bank of Canada developed a pilot project aimed at providing productivity and competitiveness support to qualified area businesses. The project included a series of preliminary workshops. These were further supported by individual business financial analysis focused on potential strategies to improve productivity and competitiveness. The process then included one-on-one consulting services designed to develop a more detailed business development plan.
Completed in 2010, participating businesses were able to better identify and execute improvement strategies, such as strengthening financial reporting, improved sales management and improving cash flow planning. Most of the participating businesses indicated positive results. This includes stronger financial management strategies, increased revenue, diversification of markets or increased workforce. One of the most successful businesses in the program used their experience to pursue further growth strategies and increased its workforce in Campbell River and Port McNeill from a few dozen employees to over 150 in less than four years. This type of SME growth in smaller communities, such as Campbell River and Port McNeill, can have a significant impact on the vitality of the local economy.