How to Conduct Market Research on a New Town

You’re considering establishing or buying an existing business in a town or region. Or you’re moved to a new town and want to start a business. Congratulations!

What are smart steps you can take to help your company succeed?

First, do some marketing research, on-line and in person. When you’re ready, consider connecting with one or more of the following:

  • Economic development offices – Many communities have an economic development officer (EDO) who works extensively with businesses.Community Futures offices also have good community information and business resources and may have a list of businesses for sale.
  • Chambers of Commerce – Most towns have Chambers of Commerce, whose purpose is to support and promote local business. Chambers often hold luncheons and other events that can be wonderful occasions to network with other businesses.
  • Real estate brokers – Commercial real estate brokers have their finger on the pulse of the local economy. If you are in the market to buy a company, brokers may know of business-owners looking to sell.
  • Accounting firms – These professionals can be helpful if you’re thinking about buying an existing business. They are often aware, informally, of owners wishing to sell.
  • Non-competitor businesses – Many business owners want a strong local economy and encourage commercial growth. Ask an Economic Development Officer, service club member or Chamber for potential referrals. Alternately, you can go direct, contact business owners and ask for 20 minutes of their time.

If you want to expand in British Columbia, take a look at communities in the North. Companies there are already spending millions of dollars as they do initial planning for projects like the Site C dam, liquefied natural gas plants, pipelines, wind farms, refineries and mines.

Not in construction? There are a myriad of opportunities in service businesses, as towns grow and business owners retire. Here are examples of the types of businesses that established and expanded in Northern BC between 2013 and 2015:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Equipment servicing and repair
  • Environmental services
  • Paint suppliers
  • Automotive dealerships
  • Tourism/hotels
  • Accountants/book keepers
  • Health care (e.g. dentists, optometrists, chiropractors)

Be ambitious. Dream big. With research, planning and entrepreneurial drive, your company can grow in and contribute to communities throughout BC.

Ramona Materi

Ramona Materi, MPA, MEd is the President of Ingenia Consulting ( Ingenia consults on labour market and economic development issues. The firm has worked with First Nations, the natural gas, solid wood, mining and environmental sectors and developed workforce training strategies for the Kootenays, Northwest and Northeast BC. Ramona blends 20 years of experience in consulting with an instinctive ability to spot business opportunities and trends. She is the author of British Columbia’s New North: How to build your business, respect communities – and prosper. She tweets regularly on Northern BC issues @RamonaMateri and can reached at

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