The Quesnel Business Support Team has helped bring nearly $3.6 million in funding support to local businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Quesnel City Council received a report providing an update as to the activities and results of the Business Support Team and the results of the Business Support Hotline program during a virtual council meeting on June 23.
The Quesnel Business Support Hotline launched on April 8, in partnership with Community Futures North Cariboo along with phone support from the City, the Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce, the West Quesnel Business Association, the Quesnel Downtown Association and the District of Wells staff.
“We connected with 218 businesses that completed an intake form, made 113 referrals and just about all of those have been followed up on now,” said Amy Reid, Manager of Economic Development and Tourism for the city of Quesnel. “We are up to 147 follow up connections, so we’ve called back and checked in with those businesses that we originally provided support to and of those we are at an average of about $16,415 that those businesses were able to get — when we apply that out to the 218, we are at about $3.6 million that was brought into Quesnel in funding support.”
According to a city staff report, approximately 20 per cent of businesses in Quesnel are still in need of additional funding support while approximately 11 per cent remain closed and approximately 60 per cent have completely reopened.
“What we have found from our callouts now is that about 60 per cent of businesses are back open as they were pre-covid, full staffing levels, about 11 per cent are still closed whether they are mandated to be closed or they are just not ready to open quite yet and then some are open with modified hours or modified staffing,” said Reid.
Councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg said that after speaking with her Business Improvement Association colleagues from around the province she believes the Quesnel Business Support Team was one of the first to implement a hotline program.
“We were probably first on the ground with this program, when I talked with my BIA colleagues from across the province they were all scrambling trying to figure out what they were doing and they were really quite interested what was going on with this,” said Roodenburg. “I think it has helped a lot of our businesses be able to maintain, those programs were never made to make them whole but they were there to try and get them through and I think we’ve managed to do that.”
Councillor Mitch Vik who owns a business in Quesnel, noted that he was very appreciative of the work done by the Business Support Team and believes their work has saved businesses in the city.
“I am so very proud of the work that was able to be done — I just think it was a tremendous job and I know we have saved many businesses in our community by that outreach.” said Vik.
According to the report, the hotline team is hoping to wrap up calls by the end of June however the line will remain open with Community Futures North staff providing further assistance to businesses as needed.