Mark Vosper with the Chamber of Commerce. (Special to The News)

Mark Vosper with the Chamber of Commerce. (Special to The News)

Supporting local business for economic development in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Businesses are starting to get back on their feet, slowly, but surely and both, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are working towards economic development, through the cities as well as through individual businesses.

Mark Vosper, executive director with the chamber of commerce servicing Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, expressed how much damage COVID-19 had done to the local businesses and economy and how the pace of recovery differed for each business.

“Adapting to the new protocols and careful budgeting has been key to survival in many cases, unfortunately this has not been the case for every business. Under staffing has been an issue during covid, encouraging people back to work should now be a priority for recruiters and employers to help drive our economy forward,” he said.

Vosper believes that everyone can do their part to help local business in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows by shopping, buying, and eating locally.

A LOCO BC report on the economic impact of shopping locally shows independent businesses recirculate up to 4.6 times more revenue into the local economy than multinationals, he said.

“The report states that a 10-per-cent shift in B.C. consumer spending towards independent businesses would create 14,150 jobs and keep $4.3 billion in the B.C. economy,” said Vosper.

City of Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall agreed that buying local was crucial, especially supporting farmers.

“85 per cent of our community is farm-based and we need to support our farmers and do anything we can to promote them,” he said, adding that the city has recently formed an economic development and tourism committee.

“That’s an important step for us to advocate and push for new businesses. We are constantly looking at attracting businesses to the city and looking for ways to support the existing ones. For example the patio extensions are so important especially during COVID,” he said.

Dingwall and the city’s CAO Mark Roberts met with the chamber recently to talk about how to enhance the local businesses and work together.

“We discussed how we can help the chamber and the businesses. We know we will be working pretty closely with the chamber in the coming days,” said Dingwall.

Dingwall said that in the coming days Pitt Meadows will see a lot in terms of development and progress.

“The phase four of the Onni development is going to move forward to business permit phase and that’s very exciting. It will be operational after that in the next 18 months to two years. We still don’t know who the tenants would be and I believe Onni would share that in the coming months, but this will be a huge driving factor for growth, bringing new jobs, etc. to the community,” he said.

He also pointed to the new development at the airport with a new brand new terminal building coming soon which is expected to attract more business to the airport and the city.

City of Maple Ridge is also in the process of undertaking a new economic development strategy and it will be presented to the council during the Nov. 23 meeting.

“There is hope on the horizon however, even with COVID case numbers still in flux, people in general seem largely to have adapted to the New Normal way of life and consumers are again out looking for festive bargains,” said Vosper, hoping people will once again turn back to supporting local.

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