The need for economic development

Many of you have asked if economic development is happening in the absence of a district employed economic development officer.

During the past months many of you have asked if economic development is happening in our community in the absence of a district employed economic development officer?

Short answer – yes.  As in many smaller communities the District of Summerland has chosen to contract out this function.

In Summerland, the chamber provides business retention and attraction and other economic development services as part of our fee-for-service agreement with the district.

Areas we work in include sector development, partnerships and community promotion.

For example, during the past year we have been actively working on the development of our agricultural technology sector.

The presence of Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in our community provides us with a unique opportunity to leverage this scientific brain trust.

More recently we’ve been able to gather individuals from the research station, the district, local agriculture entrepreneurs and provincial innovation specialists for more coordinated conversations around growing this sector.

Our regional partners include all of the South Okanagan communities and we are currently working in widely diverse portfolios ranging from bike path development, regional airport development, attracting people from oil workers to immigrants to our communities, and expanding our presence nationally and globally.

In the past two years we’ve worked hard to revitalize every outward facing promotional product in our community’s collection.

As our chamber president, Arlene Fenrich states, “this constantly evolving toolbox is providing the foundation we need to attract visitors and investors to Summerland.”

To date we’ve redesigned the visitor guides, created a new stand alone tourism website, a comprehensive on-line investment and relocation guide, and a growing library of economic development videos.

Last month we launched four more.

Shot over the summer, these specifically cover science and technology, wineries and agriculture, manufacturing in Summerland and investment.  Because of our community’s deep roots in agriculture, there is a distinct agricultural flavor to each of these videos.  If you haven’t seen them yet, we hope you’ll take a look.

We’re currently working on a new Chamber website and in the new year we will be working with the District to more actively market our available industrial land.  As this is in very short supply in the South Okanagan, we have some opportunities here.

If you’re interested in the Chamber’s work in this area, please follow our Facebook page, subscribe to our newsletter, read our blog (where currently our municipal candidates are weighing in on many important topics), watch our YouTube channel (to see our newest videos as well as last week’s all candidates forum) and check out our website.  You can find information and all the links at www.summerlandchamber.com.

Economic development doesn’t happen overnight and it’s often happening in areas that we don’t immediately see.  But it is making a difference and will continue to do so.

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.