IBC working for the future

The Invermere Business Committee held a strategic planning meeting to get started down a path to local economic growth and sustainability.

The Invermere Business Committee (IBC) recently held a strategic planning meeting to start down a path to encourage local growth and sustainability heading into the future of the area.

The specially-called meeting brought a large number of members out to share ideas about what they can do to help promote Invermere and surrounding areas.

Paul Christy, owner of the Monkey’s Uncle toy and gift company, helped facilitate the meeting for the IBC, a committee of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC).

“The purpose of the meeting was to be a little more pro-active in keeping our economy strong. It has been a little quiet over the last couple of years and rather than sitting and waiting for all of our customers to come back we thought there were things we could do to improve the business environment,” he said.

Christy felt it was important for the IBC to work with the district and together as a group to help improve the financial situation of the area. Working together as a group was also an important part of a successful future according to owner of Home Hardware in Invermere and member of the Invermere Council, Al Miller.

“For the IBC, they need to have an active committee or group of committed people who are going to work together to get the work done. It is more important now than it has been in the past. We need  to show people that we are thankful to them for coming to our community,” Miller said.

He went on to stress that “the weight of what has to be done cannot be placed on just a couple of individuals for the IBC to work and run successful events,” he said.

Susan Smith is the Executive Director of the CVCC. She felt the meeting was a successful first step overall.

“I think it went very well. By virtue of the attendance I think it shows that people are interested and they want to be sure that the right things are being done to enhance our economy,” Smith said.

Smith added that she felt that the IBC was trying to not only enhance the area for visitors but also for local residents as well.

When asked about the importance of everyone working together for a brighter future, Smith said this would be “critical for success.”

Christy also sees many benefits from working throughout the Columbia Valley region to promote everything the area offers to both residents and people visiting.

“I think it is absolutely vital. This is such an amazing destination with all of the resources. We want people who come to Fairmont to also come to Invermere and discover Panorama. That is going to make them want to come back again and bring their friends,” he said.

Showing off all that the area has to offer will make people come to the area, Miller said.

“Another thing that has to be done is we need to have someone market the local happenings. We need to push and show our stuff. There is a lot of competition out there for places for people to go. We want to be the number one spot,” Miller said. “We have to diversify as much as we can. The tourism aspect is an area we can continually try and strive to grow. Year round we need to have different happenings. We have to pull that market from places like Calgary and Edmonton. Coming from areas that can get to us reasonably quick. We have worked hard to try and make our area a tourism area. Now we have to try and make sure we are filling the slower areas.”

Christy felt this was a sign of the economic times that businesses are currently facing in the area and beyond. “Business has been slow. We are certainly expecting a decent summer and next winter is going to be a long one for many business people,” he said.

Looking at ways to help promote the area during the slower times of the year is something the group will be doing.

“We need to have a sustainable plan for the growth of our communities,” Smith said.

Smith explained that the Chamber is trying to get more involved with many different groups throughout the valley in a hope of promoting the area better and having more groups involved in what is happening.