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RMOW in the running for provincial small business award

Zero property taxes, housing 75 per cent of workforce part of submission


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The municipality is one of 13 finalists in the running for a provincial award, which recognizes local governments that support small business.

It's called the Open for Business Awards.

"We had a very strong submission, I thought, not being biased," laughed Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden. "So I was really pleased to see that we were short-listed."

The mayor pointed to several highlights in the Whistler submission that may have tipped the scales in its favour.

"We pointed to the fact that we delivered a budget without increasing property taxes, or fees, for the last three years so that of course, helped small and large business," said the mayor.

Also included in the submission was the fact that the municipality has been investing in programs and projects that help business and help Whistler stay competitive, and it helps fund Tourism Whistler and the Chamber of Commerce, both of which have small and large business interests at heart, said the mayor.

There is also the work of the Economic Partnership Initiative, which has a number of strategies that could help small business.

"And of course over the years the work of the Whistler Housing Authority has been extremely important in ensuring that at least 75 per cent of our workforce is housed locally and that is very important to small business," added Wilhelm-Morden.

The awards are issued by the BC Small Business Roundtable, established in 2005 to be the voice of small business to government.

The local government applications are evaluated based on how communities enhance small business competitiveness, recognize the contributions of small businesses to the community, and promote the principles of the BC Small Business Accord.

In its release, the province outlined that small business is a key economic driver in B.C., with 98 per cent of all business being small business. That sector provides nearly 55 per cent of all private-sector jobs, employs one million people, and generates roughly 31 per cent of the provincial GDP.

"Small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities," said Naomi Yamamoto, minister of state for small business in a release. "It's imperative that B.C. has a business-friendly climate that allows them to grow and succeed. The Open for Business awards are a great opportunity for us to recognize communities that value the importance of small business."

In addition to Whistler, the finalists are: Delta, Grand Forks, Kelowna, Langley, Nelson, Parksville, Port Coquitlam, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Smithers, Surrey and Vernon.

The province is providing awards of $10,000 to each winning community. The winners will be announced on Sept. 24 in Whistler at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention.