Action Plans to Foster Investment in Key Sectors in Grand Forks

When it comes to growing the local economy, the small community of Grand Forks is on a roll.  Building on the momentum of its Invest Grand Forks program and an investment readiness assessment, Community Futures Boundary created the Grand Forks Sector Development Project. As a result, Grand Forks and Electoral Area D have action plans and new tools for three key sectors: Agriculture, Hospitality, and Health and Wellness.

An Investment Readiness Assessment indicated that Grand Forks was not yet investment-ready. The assessment suggested a new approach to investment attraction using Sector Development Action Plans (SDAPs).  SDAPs provide a set of tactics and actions to help grow a sector, based on in-depth community engagement.  They identify gaps and areas of need, and a framework to be followed over time.

This project helped create those action plans and profiles for each sector, along with a social media promotion strategy.  In addition to these materials, Community Futures Boundary funded the development of videos that bring the excitement and opportunities associated with each sector to life on the InvestGrandForks website.

The project was funded by the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) through its Building Economic Development Capacity funding stream. Lochaven Consulting was contracted based on its strong background in planning, and familiarity with the community.  As the plans are implemented, new investment is expected for the community.

Addressing the Unique Opportunities of Each Sector

Agriculture, Hospitality, and Health and Wellness were identified as primary focus areas, based on their potential for economic growth and job creation impacts. Sandy Elzinga, Manager of Community Economic Development, worked closely with the consultant, completing interviews and surveys with 74 businesses and several business service providers from all three sectors.  

Agriculture was a priority for its prominence in the community. The sector has multiple players including value-added agriculture, food processing, food production, agri-tourism, commercial and hobby farming, and food co-ops.

The area’s Hospitality sector reflects much of what characterizes Grand Forks’ downtown, from retailers, accommodations and food services to businesses and services tied to the area’s exceptional outdoor recreation.

The Health and Wellness sector is also diverse, with hospitals, clinics and complimentary health care services such as massage, to fitness centres, health food stores and more.  

The action plan for each sector provides specific recommendations under four areas: Developing Capacities of Business Owners, Workforce Development, Inclusion of Key Sectors in Planning, and External Promotions.

Elzinga says the collaboration and partnerships that evolved through the project will inform better decision-making in the region. In addition, the project has strengthened the networks in each sector, workforce attraction opportunities have been identified, and now Grand Forks has a stronger image and brand as a place to invest.

“Within the next year we will be prioritizing the actionable items, and who will carry them out based on capacity and resources available in the community. Ultimately, we will pursue action plans for other sectors such as forestry and more targeted areas within the hospitality sector,” says Elzinga.

“ETSI-BC provided us the kind of support we really needed,” she adds. “The one-on-one contact and guidance available through the Trust are what make it stand out from other funders.  ETSI-BC has worked hard at building a program that works for communities and organizations.”

More News & Stories