Peace River’s merchants have spoken!

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Peace River town council directed its administration earlier this year to conduct a Business Grant Survey to determine the need or interest in council developing a business grant to incentivize investment in the town and its commercial building stock.
After conducting the study, indicators pointed to Business Revitalization, Tourism Enhancement and Façade Improvement being the most required or requested categories of grant needs out of all survey options.
“The idea of a business grant stems from two sources, one is a Downtown Revitalization Grant that was not used by many businesses and thus the idea to change the criteria,” says Mayor Elaine Manzer.
“So, the general idea for a business grant is to help businesses draw more customers and if they increase the number of their customers, maybe they will also then need to hire more employees, which in turn can lead to the need for more residential options and long term, an increased tax base for Peace River.”
The survey opened Oct. 19 and closed Nov. 8. The survey was available on the Town’s website and advertised on the Town’s social media. Information mailouts were also sent directly to business utility accounts and individuals who held business licenses in the community.
Manzer explains the grant, if approved during budget discussion, will help to promote retention and improvement of businesses in the community.
“The customer base for businesses is both other local businesses and residents and those from outside the community including those who are drawn to specific businesses that Peace River has,” she says.
“In turn, visitors tend not only to be customers of the business they came to town for but others as well. Keeping businesses viable, keeps residents in town, and many of these residents are also property taxpayers which helps the Town’s bottom line in terms of tax revenue but also in terms of population numbers. Some of the grants the town receives to help with projects, are based on population numbers.”
The potential grant is being considered to help address some of the challenges and opportunities facing the community, include meeting accessibility standards, improving derelict buildings, addressing the increased popularity of patios, and improving infrastructure efficiencies.
The survey received 90 total responses, with 17 respondents indicating they intend to undertake improvements on their building within the next three years, with remodeling costs ranging from $5,000 to $700,000.
“The survey was a means of determining if there was an interest in the possibility of a grant program and also a way of checking what types of criteria or projects there was an interest in,” Manzer says.
“The criterion of the grant is still being finalized but it is intended for local Peace River businesses,” she adds.
Administration has earmarked a total of $50,000 to be considered for a potential grant and will be deliberated on during operational budget discussions

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