The expression, ‘when times get tough, the tough get going’ may work for some people.
The Sidney Business Development Group, formed to look into the creation of a unified marketing voice for business in the seaside town, hopes to strengthen that old chestnut by getting as many people as possible on the same page.
“Businesses in town are struggling a bit with the economy,” said Steve Duck, project manager for the group.
“We just wanted to create some awareness that we need to move ahead. At the same time, going forward we want to make sure we know what people want. And what does that look like?”
Aware of the splintering of promotional efforts, with the Sidney Business Association, Sidney Merchants’ Co-Op and Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce each providing their own version of marketing, Duck has been canvassing the Sidney business community to gauge interest in streamlining things.
The group was given a $18,500 grant by Sidney council this year to look at options for creating a focused marketing arm. The end goal is to have an organization that better helps Sidney compete in a regional market where the Uptown development in Saanich and big box store-friendly Langford are drawing customers from around the region, including the Peninsula.
“There’s a sense of urgency to that,” Duck said. “Many business owners will tell you that Sidney is about three years behind.
“I don’t think in the past that enough has been done to say ‘Sidney is open for business.’ If you don’t keep shouting out what you’re doing, then no one is going to hear you. Everybody succeeds if everybody takes part.”
Besides Duck, who also monitors results of an online business marketing survey, the group is made up of volunteer businesspeople. They meet every other week to discuss the feedback being received and will host public open houses, Oct. 23 and 24 at the Mary Winspear Centre and the Sidney Pier Hotel, respectively, to further hear ideas on moving forward with the unification concept.
Business owners and managers are also encouraged to complete an online survey (at SidneyBiz.com) by Sept. 19 to add to the information flow.
A Victoria-based consultant – the hiring of which Duck expects will eat up most of the grant money – is also researching what other communities are doing to promote business and what has worked well.
“By the time we get to the feasibility study and present it to council, the due diligence will have been done to find out what a ‘made in Sidney’ model looks like,” Duck said.
Sidney Mayor Larry Cross, who last January challenged the business community to come up with a idea to unify its marketing efforts, is optimistic that a workable solution will emerge when the Sidney Business Development Group presents its report in November.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll arrive at a place where the merchants are comfortable with the organization, whatever it is, and flowing it into the business community.”
For more information on the Sidney Business Development Group, or to offer feedback on the project, visit SidneyBiz.com or call Steve Duck at 250-891-6599.