Recently Invermere, Canal Flats and the rest of the Columbia Valley have been hosts two different sessions on economic development initiatives. The first was titled “Land Development Readiness and Marketing Workshop” and was held in Canal Flats on February 29th. The second session was called “Economic Development Building Blocks” and was held at the Lions Hall just outside of Invermere. Both sessions were sponsored by and organized by the provincial Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, & Skill Training. Specifically, regional manager for the Kootenays and a local resident, Gerri Brightwell, was actively involved in organizing and bringing these sessions to our area. The information from the two sessions underscores the importance of working collaboratively as an area and also highlights the importance of fully utilizing technological and social media tools while also ensuring there are clear points of contact and accurate information being communicated. It is also beneficial to understand better what role local government can play, and what roles other entities in the community, including the industry/private sector, needs to play. The crossover and connection between Permanent Resident Attraction and Retention, Business Attraction and Retention, and overall economic development are clear. Hopefully, over the next six to twelve months, Invermere and the Columbia Valley will be able to provide resources and energy to see implementation and action in these areas.
One of the pleasant experiences of having outside experts come to our area is to get their honest assessment of the current conditions. These folks were genuinely impressed with what Invermere and the valley have to offer, specifically with the vibrancy, condition and lack of vacancy downtown. Compared to many other areas, we are starting from a great position, and have a lot of incredible strengths and assets to leverage and build upon.
Nothing is every easy, but it sure could be harder. We should all take time to be grateful for our successes and for how strong and positive our communities are. Increasing awesomeness in what is already awesome is a challenge we are willing to work together on.
Gerry Taft is mayor of the District of Invermere and a Regional District of East Kootenay director for the Columbia Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.