More than 60% of local business leaders in the Comox Valley are optimistic about the financial performance of their business in 2017, and 44% expect to hire additional employees.

These were among the key findings of the second MNP Comox Valley Business Leaders Survey conducted in partnership by the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, Comox Valley Economic Development Society and MNP LLP. Modelled after similar surveys conducted by MNP elsewhere, the goal of the survey was to assess the local business climate and economic outlook, and explore other local business issues in the Comox Valley.

Some 200 local business leaders were polled in this survey, conducted between November 14-25, 2016. Of the 200 businesses that responded, 125 were from Courtenay, 41 from Comox, 26 from the Regional District and 8 from Cumberland. Respondents included business owners, CEOs, presidents, executive directors and designated senior corporate officers across all industry sectors in the Comox Valley.

Most respondents expressed satisfaction with their business performance in 2016, with 56.5% reporting that the financial performance of their business improved in the past 12 months. Many said that the local government is doing a better job of creating a good business climate, but many said that there is still room to improve. Top suggestions include cutting bureaucracy while improving permitting and approval processes.

Local business leaders said that the top challenges they anticipate over the next year include managing growth and expansion (13%); finding and retaining qualified staff (13%); and government policies and regulations.

According to the survey results, the Comox Valley’s red-hot housing market is having an impact on local business bottom lines. More than a quarter of the respondents said the surge in transactions has resulted in increase customers and sales. However, the lack of availability and affordability of housing has been difficult for employees and customers.

Wendy Lewis of MNP

Results of the survey were initially presented by Wendy Lewis of MNP, and discussed at an Economic Outlook breakfast hosted by the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce on January 19. Wendy noted that most business owners felt very positive about the future, but when asked what was limiting their businesses the top three answers included: uncertainly about economic conditions, lack for affordable skilled labor, and local government regulation, “while businesses are feeling optimistic, they are always challenged to attract and manage growth and adapt to change”.

The full results presentation is available online at www.MNP.ca/comoxsurvey.

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