A Completed Regional Economic Strategy Is Near

It’s been a busy winter season for community engagement, collaboration, and regional economic strategy building in the Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake area.

The Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership (CV-KL EAP), which is funded by the RDCK Electoral Areas A, B, C, the Town of Creston, Kootenay Employment Services and Lower Kootenay Band, has evaluated and prioritized the community engagement feedback from the Fall and has chosen key focuses to consider for the regional economic strategy. Focuses that have risen to the top include tourism and recreation access, local business development and support, local purchasing and procurement, quality of life and resident attraction, agriculture collaboration and the exploration of new markets.

Some focuses are already underway and destined toward regional collaboration – such as the Fields Forward initiative within the agriculture sector, and the destination development and marketing initiatives within the tourism and recreation access focus. On the contrary, there are focuses that will need extra attention and time to get off the ground, but are as equally important to define in the regional strategy.

To further indulge into the needs of the business community, a business support survey was open to the public for the month of January. Over the four week period, 101 businesses completed the survey – which roughly represents 10% of businesses in our region. Participating businesses ranged in size, sector, location and structure – which provided a broad spectrum of responses for the CV-KL EAP to utilize in phase three and four of strategy building. To thank the business community, the CV-KL EAP drew (at random) five winners to receive customized business and/or marketing support from local professionals. The results from this survey are currently being analyzed and will be made available for public access in the coming weeks.

February marked the beginning of stakeholder meetings for the six focus strategies. The purpose of convening stakeholder groups is to generate actions which will collectively make up the regional plan.

On February 21st, over thirty residents attended the Tourism and Recreation Access Stakeholders Meeting at Wynndel Hall. Current local initiatives were presented, which included destination co-op marketing lead by Service 108 and the enhanced tourism education program in Area A. The meeting closed with small group work which identified key priorities moving forward – such as cross-promotion, joint marketing, improving online presence, destination development, employee training around local hospitality services, and the need for a regional tourism strategy.

Looking to share your knowledge, network with others, and contribute? There are upcoming stakeholder meetings you can attend this March.

On Saturday, March 10th, the Fields Forward 3rd Annual Forum & Stakeholders Meeting will take place at the Creston & District Community Complex. This is an opportunity to learn about current initiatives and provide input around barriers and opportunities within the agriculture and horticulture sectors; such as finding labor, staff training, technology, health and dental, and other resources. As well, there will be updates around the Fields Forward Society as a centralized support for agriculture in the region.

There will be two Local Business Matters Stakeholders Meetings, which will provide convenient access for our busy business communities to participate in strategy building. The first meeting will take place on Tuesday March 20th at Jimmy’s Pub Banquet Room in Creston. The second meeting is set for Tuesday March 27th at the Kokanee Springs Resort in Crawford Bay. These meetings will provide an opportunity for businesses to create an action list that local government, businesses and community groups can carry out. But, more importantly, talk about implementation and how to make these action a reality.

More information about these meetings, future stakeholder events, and how to RSVP can be found at eap.kes.bc.ca/events.

While the community is generating concrete action items for the regional strategy, the partners of the CV-KL EAP are working hard to determine the focus strategy priorities; set to be completed by the end of April 2018. For the remaining six months of the economic strategy project, the focus will be determining governance, ongoing funding, and implementation.

The foreseen role of CV-KL economic development going forward is not to override work and initiatives being executed in each community, but to rather provide an over-arching communication mechanism between groups and individuals. Having this economic development entity will provide transparency and build awareness of current happenings within our region – which, in turn, will provide opportunity for collaboration and cross-over support from different communities and groups within each focus area.

With feedback from over a thousand people on how to improve the local economy, and the tireless work of local government, stakeholders, and funders to understand opportunities, our region is within arm’s reach of commencing a positive and successful regional economic strategy. Stay tuned!


 

By: Creston Valley-Kootenay Lake Economic Action Partnership
Published in the The Eastshore Mainstreet Newspaper: March Edition
Published in the Creston Valley Advance: 03/08/18