Saturday, June 19, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Friday, June 18, 2010)

Air Transportation in and out of Prince Rupert could face strike action, NWCC looks for a new leader and an advertisement notice in the Daily News becomes the talk of the town, some of the items of note from Friday's news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SURVEYS LOCAL BUSINESSES -- Some follow up on the reviews of a recent survey conducted by the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of commerce, which examined what its members felt were the key concerns of the business community.

Air Transportation in and out of Prince Rupert could become very complicated and hard to come by shortly as Air Canada Jazz pilots and flight attendants file their 72 hour notice of strike action against the regional carrier. Any cessation of flights out of Prince Rupert would no doubt play havoc with both business  travel and the vacation plans of many in the region.

The School District shows little concern over recent Fraser Institute rankings, calling the Conservative think tank's findings as irrelevant. As we outlined on the blog earlier this week, the most recent number crunching by the Fraser Institute ranked the city's two high schools far from the top of their list, with PRSS receiving a ranking of 211 out of 268 and Charles Hays ranked at 265.

But the most interesting item of all wasn't from the news department, but rather a full page ad on page 17, where the owners of the recently closed Extra Foods location in town provided their interpretation of the events that led to the closing of one of Prince Rupert's grocery shopping options. We outlined the background on that strike and provided the full advertisement on the blog, the item can be found here.  

The Sports section featured  a look at an upcoming skateboard competition, a review of the latest from the Prince Rupert Rapids swim club and a look back at last weeks Seafest show and shine competition.

(Daily News Archive items for Friday, June 18, 2010)

Chamber of Commerce surveys local businesses
Strike warning for local Air Canada 
For the love of forest trails 
SD 52 deny relevance of FSAs 
Foster parents needed

The Northern View
No new items were posted to the Northern View website on Friday

CFTK TV 7 News
NWCC Looking For New President -- A change at the top for Northwest Community College as the northwest educational institution announces that its President has resigned to take up new duties in Manitoba (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Haida Gwaii Officially Renamed -- The i's have been dotted, the t's crossed and the proclamations read, and as of Thursday Haida Gwaii has been enshrined as the official name of the islands that used to be known as Queen Charlotte (see article here) (John Crawford filed this video report for TV 7)

Tough questions for Enbridge at Chamber luncheon -- Enbridge Energy officials took to the Chamber of commerce forum in Terrace to explain their proposed pipeline project and answer questions from those in attendance (see article here)

CBC News Northern BC, Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Daily News, front page, headline story
Chamber of Commerce surveys local businesses
By Monica Lamb Yorski
Staff Writer
Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, June 18, 2010

Through a recent survey, the Chamber of Commerce has learned from some of the business community.

According to results that the greatest negative impact to them is the local economy. Second on the list is municipal bylaws, followed by taxes, quality of a skilled staff force and vandalism.

From the total membership of 220, only 46 responded to the survey, said Chamber President Maynard Angus, during his presentation at the Chamber’s monthly luncheon. This response equaled about 26 percent.

Angus said the Chamber can’t control the local economy, but it’s on everyone’s minds. “I think that if we can get a movement where maybe the Chamber can take the initiative and ask ‘how do we, knowing that we can’t change the economy, take advantage of the leakage or opportunities out there?’.”

The present snapshot of Prince Rupert’s downtown is boarded up windows, closed stores and burnt out buildings, he said. “As a community we need to bring ourselves out of the downward spiral. If we don’t, we will all be in our own little silos feeling sorry for ourselves. We need to bring the community back together.”

When it came to municipal bylaws, the Chamber heard that parking is the biggest issue, with many comments coming from Charter operators.

Referring to taxes – everything from property to HST – business and property owners said they want to rent out their buildings but believe the taxes are too high.

Some businesses identified the lack of finding a qualified skilled workforce.

“This is something that we as a community and small business owners need to think about,” said Angus. “This is a problem right across the country that educational institutions are looking at.”

He admitted to being surprised that vandalism emerged last on the list. “For the business owners and property owners, more in their mind is right now. Someone could break their window, but they need revenue. It doesn’t help when you’ve got another expense hitting your bottom line, but it’s your revenue that’s most important.”

Over the last 18 months, Angus has been asking what the community knows about the Chamber and what it thinks its role is. 

“If the Chamber wants to be relative, we need to know the answers to those questions,” he suggested.

Last month the board of directors held a strategic planning session and determined the Chamber wants to be the voice of business in the community by 2012. Steps they’ve set out to achieve that goal include strategic engagement, advocacy and member services.

One of the new committees they’ve developed is a Municipal Government Relations Committee that includes past chamber presidents, Angus, board member Jason Scherr, Mark Newberry from Prince Rupert Grain, and is chaired by Mike Jackson from the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

 “We have met with the Mayor and we’ve met with the City Manager and sat down and said, look, this is what we’re doing and this is why we want to do it.” They don’t want to poke fingers, but they do want to work with the City and the Chamber members to bridge the gap that’s occurring right now, Angus added.

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