Sandy Santori, Lower Columbia Initiative Corporation executive director, had a positive message to bring to Rossland businesses during the chamber of commerce annual general meeting last Tuesday. Santori said that he thinks there have been a lot of good things happening in this region and there is a lot to look forward to in 2012.
“That’s not to say we won’t have some economic downturn as we move forward,” Santori said. “I think that when we look at other areas and other jurisdictions in the province, we are well positioned both on the industrial side and Rossland and its tourism industry are well positioned to move forward when that downturn starts to turn around.”
Santori talked about some of the projects that could help diversify the regional economy.
He said one of the biggest shortfalls he’d identified from Rossland’s tourism industry was a lack of shelf ready products in Trail to complement what Rossland has in the winter and summer time.
In response to that and things Trail looked at in the past, the city created the Columbia River Heritage and Science Centre.
“That is a significant project that will include a new museum, the chamber offices and info centre, the Teck interpretive and science centre,” he said.
“That is one of our big projects.”
The other big project Santori said could benefit the region is the Trail Regional Airport master plan.
“I know there’s been some issues raised in Rossland with regards to transportation and improved access to Rossland,” he said.
The master plan has been completed and is being looked at by elected officials.
Santori also talked about how a business retention survey used first in Rossland is now being implemented in Fruitvale.
“We’re taking the information that was used for Rossland,” he said, adding they will be working closely with KAST and the manufacturing and technology sector.
Santori said that the survey is about building relationships with the business community to try to help them understand their challenges and opportunities to expand their market.
“The reality is that 80 per cent of the jobs that are created in North America come from existing businesses,” he said. “We have about 786 businesses between Fruitvale, Rossland and the area in between.”
Santori said that if a third of those businesses hired an additional person it would instantly create more than 200 jobs.