On March 25, 2020, Quesnel’s business support organizations came together to form the Quesnel Business Support Team. After a quick round of the Zoom table, where everyone shared what they were hearing from the business community, we identified two objectives for our team: 1) Maximize the government stimulus dollars flowing into Quesnel by supporting the business community in accesssing those funds; 2) Maximize the local dollars flowing within the community with a “shop local on steroids” program.
To achieve the first objective, we set up a business support hotline, using existing staff resources and a small budget to pay for a coordinator and a VOIP system so each caller could handle calls from their own home.
To maximize local spending, we launched a series of #InQuesnel campaigns, with each partner contributing funds, in order to cover the costs of social media ad spending, video development, and a LOT of local gift card giveaways.
Our hotline team called 755 businesses. For context, there are about 1000 business licenses, we did not call multi-family housing properties, dentists, lawyers, or businesses based outside of the community. The rest received a call.
220 businesses completed intake forms, resulting in 120 referrals, and at least 152 follow up calls. On average, the team helped businesses to access over $18,000 in government supports, or $4.1 million.
The #InQuesnel campaigns have seen an engagement rate of up to 19%, and our Love Quesnel channel has increased followers by 26%. $9800 in gift cards to local shops have been given away as prizes.
We learned from experience with this initiative. Quesnel was impacted by unprecedented wildfires in 2017 and 2018. We knew from that experience that businesses don’t like to ask for help, and posting a number to contact is not enough. Outreach is required.
Hotline: We began with businesses who had been mandated to close, or alter operations, followed by all other businesses.
#InQuesnel: Quesnel +50 km; with shopping, small biz interests.
We built this project around existing resources, including available staff time, websites, and social media pages.
Business Support Team: https://www.quesnel.ca/city-hall/major-initiatives/business-support-team
Love Quesnel Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lovequesnel
#InQuesnel video series: https://youtu.be/_-5FMs3IT0E
Community Futures North Cariboo
Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce
West Quesnel Business Association
Quesnel Downtown Association
South Quesnel Business Association
District of Wells
Cariboo Regional District