Debrief of the “Westport – Let’s Talk Business” meeting – June 14

First, I would like to thank Mark DaSilva for facilitating the discussion at this meeting yesterday.  You did a great job!

There was a good cross section of business owners and residents who attended and several ideas were identified including recognition of store openings, milestones for years of being in business, mentoring for new business owners from seasoned ones, the importance of knowing enough about other businesses so that accurate referrals can be given to potential customers.  Also, lots of information sharing took place, which happens spontaneously when people get together.  The Economic Development and Tourism Committee will take some of the suggestions and put some meat on the bones and report back to this group, hopefully in July.

There were concerns raised about the changes to the minimum wage and the impact it may have on small businesses.  I informed the group that I have a resolution, being heard at the Village Committee of the Whole mtg on Monday afternoon and also at the United Counties Council mtg on June 22 , that challenges the Premier to (among other things) “to withdraw the proposed changes until such time they have done their due diligence by providing the residents and business owners of Ontario with a comprehensive economic impact analysis including mitigation measures in order to help businesses transition into any regulatory changes”.

Another topic that received a lot of discussion was the hours of business for the stores.  Two main concerns were identified – that most stores close at 5:00 p.m and the unannounced changes in store hours, particularly in the shoulder seasons.  Business owners who stay open on Fridays after 5:00 p.m. shared the successes they have experienced and staff from the Cove gave stories of guests checking in on Fridays and rushing to get to the stores before they close.

That being said, the group did land on the idea of “OPEN LATE.  ‘TIL 8” on Fridays during the summer and are encouraging other business owners to consider doing the same.  I am sure you will hear more about this from your colleagues.

We are hoping to get a guest speaker for our next meeting and when Paul Snider asked the group if we should hold off until fall, there was a strong push back that these early morning breakfast meetings can continue during the summer.  So stay tuned – we will plan for one in late July.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.  273-9195

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