Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit looks back at the challenges of 2017, and forward to 2018 Steve Kidd/Western News Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. Steve Kidd/Western News

Penticton up for provincial business award

City last won the Open for Business Award in 2013

Penticton is in the running for B.C.’s Open for Business award next month.

The city last won the award in 2013, and towards the end of February, the community will find out if it is again the most welcoming city in the province for business, or if the honour goes to Campbell River or Prince George.

The City of Penticton is one of three communities in the Okanagan and Shuswap shortlisted for the award, which recognizes communities that have created a more welcoming small business environment.

Penticton is competing in the large community category (over 25,000 population) and Lumby is vying for the same honour as a small community (under 5,000) while Salmon Arm is making its play in the medium (5,000 to 25,000) category.

“This year’s finalists have demonstrated new and innovative ways of supporting small businesses and good jobs for British Columbians by improving services and reducing regulatory burden in their communities,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said economic development has been high on city council’s priority list, and part of being shortlisted comes from the economic incentives zones the city introduced in 2010 as the city was coming out of a recession.

“It’s stimulated around 40 projects, about $70 million in construction activity and 400 new jobs,” said Jakubeit, adding that 80 per cent of the EIZ applications have come from locals growing their business with 20 per cent from new businesses coming into the city.

“That’s good. We want our business community to thrive and grow,” said Jakubeit.

In recent years, Penticton has also been recognized as one of the top entrepreneurial cities.

“I think the last few years we’ve turned a corner and we’re seeing more people coming here, more entrepreneurs, more businesses. The local businesses are growing and expanding their reach,” said Jakubeit. “I think retention and expansion is probably the number one priority for our economic development strategy moving forward.”

This year, 31 communities from across the province presented case studies on one of their initiatives to the awards judges for review to prove why their community is the best and most supportive of small business, which is being incorporated in the Small Business Awards this year.

“We are very happy to partner with the province to deliver the Open for Business Awards and bring to the forefront communities that deserve to be recognized for their support of small business,” said George Hunter, CEO of Small Business B.C. “It’s important to recognize not only the small businesses of B.C., but also the local governments who support them and create space for them to flourish. Being able to present the Open for Business Awards at the Small Business Awards gala creates a unique opportunity to celebrate both small businesses and the communities they thrive in.”

In partnership with the B.C. Small Business Roundtable, Small Business B.C. will host the Open for Business Awards at the their event on Feb. 23 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where the winners of each category will be announced.

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