Kamloops initiatives to support small business during COVID-19 to be mirrored in the Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops initiatives to support small business during COVID-19 to be mirrored in the Okanagan

April 13, 2020 - 6:00 PM

Kamloops is leading the way for other municipalities across the province when it comes to keeping a focus on positive pandemic-related news.

Across the country, small businesses are coming up with innovative ways to remain open during the pandemic. A website and new hashtag campaign in Kamloops hopes to shine a light on some local spots that have pivoted to meet social distancing orders.

“I hope that one of the primary benefits of this is we're going to motivate our businesses to move forward. YKA Strong is a united front and I think that it’s confirmation that as a community, and as a business community we’re truly all in this together,” says Carl DeSantis, president of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association.

The YKA Strong website and hashtag ideas were brought forth by Tourism Kamloops and now has eight local organizations helping to share educational and financial resources and positive news. DeSantis says his involvement with the recently launched YKA Strong campaign has led to curiosity from Business Improvement Areas of British Columbia board members across the province.

“I sit on the board of directors for (Business Improvement Areas of British Columbia) and through that network I’ve been contacted by a few of my colleagues inquiring about YKA Strong. It’s gotten momentum throughout the province… they’ve expressed interest in something just like YKA Strong in their communities,” DeSantis says.

Although he can’t share the exact locations as they are in the early planning stages, Acacia Pangilinan, executive director of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, says some Okanagan communities may soon see their own initiative.

“Through our chamber network I’ve been able to share about YKA Strong to our peers and I’m happy to say it’s going to open up to the Okanagan over the next couple of weeks, and I think Richmond is looking at a similar model,” Pangilinan says.

In addition to YKA Strong, the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association has launched #DowntownToGo, a new hashtag campaign to encourage Kamloopsians to support local downtown businesses during COVID-19.

A release from the association states that it is a difficult time for businesses as they struggle to remain afloat, keep their employees and adapt to new restrictions put in place by the federal and provincial governments. Despite the challenges, various downtown businesses have adapted with new services, take away options and online offers.

“Some (businesses) have tried new things for the first time, like launching online business models… Kamloops supports Kamloops businesses and we look forward to that support continuing,” DeSantis says.

Red Collar Brewing now offers home delivery of beer cans, Mittz Kitchen has adjusted their menu to allow for take-away options, Healing Space offers online sessions for mental wellness, SKIN Kamloops is offering curbside deliveries and clothing stores like Jardines Domaine and Mainstreet Clothing now offer their clothing and other attire online. In addition to the altered options for customers, some businesses like Pizza Pi are offering pay-it-forward programs for homeless and healthcare workers.

By using the hashtags, residents can show their support for local businesses while adhering to social distancing measures. You can use #YKAStrong to support any local business or share something positive in the community. Use #DowntownToGo to show support for the businesses operating out of the downtown core.

Check out this webpage for a list of Kamloops businesses that are still operating. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2020

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