Economic development ideas for Summerland

In February, Chamber of Commerce staff attended two economic development workshops.

In February, Chamber of Commerce staff attended two economic development workshops.

One, held in Vancouver Feb. 13 to 14, was the first Local Economy Summit presented by B.C.’s Ten Percent Shift Campaign. This grass roots campaign started in 2010 and is gaining momentum in many communities with the message that if consumers shifted just 10 per cent of their spending to locally owned businesses, it would make a significant difference in our local economy.

Using media purchases as an example of a retail item we buy, research shows that when a person buys $100 worth of products online, none of that money is retained in the community. When they buy the same product from a large chain with a local presence, $43 stays and circulates in the community. When the same $100 purchase is made at a locally owned small business, $68 stays in the community via wages and other professional services purchased by that business. That’s pretty significant.

The Ten Percent Shift idea recognizes that it may not be practical to shift all our spending to local businesses and in fact, a local option may not exist for every item.

When it comes to economic development we may feel that there isn’t much that we can do as individuals. But this is an idea which we can all practice beginning today. Give some thought to where you can buy what you need and want right here in Summerland.

The second workshop was held on Feb. 25 in Kamloops.

This session was Economic Development Essentials for Local Leaders, geared to rural communities and presented by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. Business retention and expansion was the focus of this workshop with many longer term ideas of what communities need to do to attract new business and provide for the expansion of existing companies.

A key element of this concept is the availability of industrial land for development. The development of industrial land has a direct economic benefit to the community through positive tax revenues and also contributes extensively to job creation. For every 100 jobs created in manufacturing, many more jobs are created to support them.

These other jobs are in retail, hospitality, auto services, and health, financial and business services. In Summerland a lack of industrial land for building and expansion was identified in the Okanagan industrial land inventory in 2008. This need may be met in part by the development of the new Bentley Road Industrial Park which the District of Summerland has been working on for a number of years.  The 7.2 hectares of land that has been identified adjacent to the existing industrial park will be a significant expansion.

This development plan timeline is on target and the Chamber and other business partners will support the District in the marketing of this new industrial park.

Economic development takes many different forms. I’ve only touched on two here. There is a part for all of us to play in improving the economic climate of our town.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at manager@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, at  president@summerlandchamber.com.

Christine Petkau is the Manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.