Oceanside Initiatives went before Parksville city council on Oct. 19, with a regional economic update and asked to be part of the city’s budget.
Corry Hostetter, economic development co-ordinator and project manager, said that four weeks after the Oceanside Initiatives grand opening in February, businesses started closing their doors in accordance with provincial regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Oceanside Initiatives was able to respond by assessing the needs of the business community and created the Rebound Oceanside program to help reopen and prepare businesses for the future.
“Ultimately we save jobs, and we reduce the negative economic impact of COVID-19 in the [Parksville Qualicum Beach] area,” said Hostetter.
She said they plan to resume business retention, expansion programs and plan to continue the rebound program.
“The rebound program injected over $90,000 in local spending in the [Parksville Qualicum Beach] region during the start of the COVID pandemic. We’ve helped over 50 business rebound during the first wave, and saved 28 full-time jobs and three businesses from imminent closure.”
The Oceanside Initiatives funding concludes in a few months, and they’re looking to establish a long-term funding model by January. They have already put together budget recommendations, and would like to share them with Parksville city council.
“In order for us to move forward, we need the support from our two key municipalities, the Town of Qualicum Beach and the City of Parksville,” said Hostetter. “So that’s what we’re asking now ,for an opportunity to sit down in an informal way to discuss how we continue to move this project forward.”
Coun. Doug O’Brien asked Kim Burden, executive director of the Parksville a d District Chamber of Commerce, if they plan to attract new business opportunities to the area.
Burden said they do, but their priority is expansion and retention. From the information they’ve gathered, they believe it indicates that Parksville is not ready for new business coming in, as it is for expanding existing businesses that have made “a commitment to Parksville.”
“The customer you have is way more valuable than the customer that you have to reach out to over and over again. We believe that it’s our primary role, not our only role, to work with the businesses that are here now to help them grow,” said Burden.