Food security has become a priority for the rural mountain town of Revelstoke in the Columbia-Shuswap region. To encourage more local food production, the Community Connections (Revelstoke) Society established a commercial kitchen incubator to help local food producers scale and move into value-added processing. ETSI-BC was pleased to provide funding support for this project, which has achieved several healthy outcomes.
Here are some regional success stories to inspire your next economic development project.
Budding Success: Cannabis Transition Program Cultivates Thriving Economic Landscape in Central Kootenays
With the evolution of the Kootenay Cannabis Council, the environment for producers transitioning to the legal cannabis sector is creating new economic opportunities in the Kootenays. ETSI-BC supported work of the Council, an outcome of Community Futures Central Kootenays’ Cannabis Business Transition Initiative.
The timing was right in 2022 for the Tḱemlúps te Secwépemc (TteS), to create a strategic plan for their Business and Economic Development Department. A new Chief and Council was elected in 2021 to lead the community over the next three years, a competent and motivated staff team was in place, and the appetite for reconciliation and collaboration with Indigenous people was strong.
Value-added processing is the low-hanging fruit for food producers wanting to scale up their businesses, and food hubs can be the catalyst to do this. The Okanagan Food and Innovation Hub is slated to open in Summerland in 2024, as the largest node in BC’s food hub network. The project is based on a comprehensive five-year plan created with support from ETSI-BC.
Post-secondary institutions play a vital role in helping develop entrepreneurial and job-readiness skills, both of which are vital for a thriving regional economy. The Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) provides funding to each of the six public post-secondary institutions (PSIs) in the Southern Interior to equip students and graduates with entrepreneurial and job-readiness skills. ETSI-BC hosted the second annual PSI roundtable in March 2023 to encourage the institutions to foster connections and share best practices. Read how these institutions are helping grow the regional economy through skilled employees and new ventures.
Risk-takers, innovators and problem-solvers have been exploring their entrepreneurial ideas and developing their skills through UBC Okanagan’s entrepreneurship program since its inception in 2018. Like the startups it supports, the program is continually evolving, and ETSI-BC has been pleased to support e@UBC programs in the last couple years.
The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), based in Merritt, is BC’s Indigenous public post-secondary institution. NVIT provides students in the Nicola Valley and throughout BC with education they might not otherwise be able to access. Co-op Education Coordinator, Anita Dumont, is focused on growing the program and changing the future for NVIT students, with support from ETSI-BC.
The increasing pace of growth and change in the Slocan Valley over the last several years inspired an update to the Slocan Valley Economic Development Partnership’s strategic plan. Residents, businesses, and other community stakeholders came together in this highly collaborative project to create a roadmap for long-term, sustainable growth, with funding support from ETSI-BC.
Businesses in the West Kootenays have been able to overcome labour market challenges through the Rural and Northern Immigration Program (RNIP) which brings skilled permanent residents to rural communities and matches them with employers with job vacancies. ETSI-BC supported an extension of the project, enabling businesses in many sectors to continue to grow and thrive.
From flight schools and private air services to hospitality, manufacturing and logistics companies, many types of businesses can benefit from being located near an airport while contributing to economic development in the region. Investment in airport infrastructure increases connections to international markets, attracts new businesses, and creates jobs.