Business survey sheds light on needs in Neepawa


By Kate Jackman-Atkinson

The Neepawa Banner

Earlier this year, the Town of Neepawa Economic Development officer Marilyn Crewe partnered with the Neepawa Chamber of Commerce on a business survey. A total of 22 surveys were completed and Crewe presented the results at the April 7 Neepawa council meeting.

Crewe said that 22 responses equates to about 20 per cent of the Neepawa Chamber of Commerce’s membership, a good response considering that surveys usually have a 10 to 20 per cent response rate. “I was pleased with the response,” she said.

Crewe was pleased so see overall optimism among the respondents. About 75 per cent of businesses planed to keep staffing levels stable and 20 per cent planned to hire additional staff. Additionally, just under half are planning to expand in the coming year. “It shows Neepawa is strong,” she said.

With the surveys completed, Crewe said that the next step will be followup; using the responses to better meet the needs of area businesses.

According to survey respondents, the two biggest issues facing Neepawa businesses are human resources and succession planning.  Crewe said that these aren’t problems unique to Neepawa, but common with businesses across the country. These are two areas in which she hopes to be able to provide some assistance. 

When it comes to succession planning, Crewe said that business owners must first decide whether to sell the business or close it.  If they decide to sell, they must then determine the business’ value. Crewe hopes to help connect business owners planning on exiting their business with resources, including those who have already successfully exited a business.  

Human resources, especially training and retention are also an area of concern for local businesses.  Crew said  that there is an opportunity to provide training around areas of hiring, customer service, staff training, marketing and social media. She added that business owners want to ensure that their staff are effective, but they also want to make sure that they stay.

The final question on the survey asked whether business owners would be interested in showcasing their business at a Chamber networking event. Five businesses said that they would and another seven said “maybe”. Crewe hopes that they can host some informal networking events that will help strengthen ties within the business community. 

Crewe plans to use the information gathered to tailor upcoming training and programming to the current needs of the business community.  She plans for this to be an ongoing project and will conduct another survey in the future.