The Village of Fruitvale has cleared the first hurdle in proceeding with a re-branding initiative.
The municipality received $100,000 in funding from the rural community development grant, formerly known as the BC Rural Dividend Program, opening the door to ‘Fruitvale’s Re-branding Strategy Project’.
“We would like to have a general theme that defines who we are and where we came from, to tie these initiatives together into a cohesive plan,” Fruitvale mayor Steve Morissette told the Times after submitting the grant application last summer. “There have been a few different ideas for our brand over the years, but never anything that really related to Fruitvale’s origin.”
The Rural Dividend program was suspended by the NDP back in September of 2019 to direct money towards communities hardest hit by the forestry downturn. It now appears the province has reconsidered, and is providing rural communities with what’s now called a rural community development grant. The government provided almost $14 million for over 150 projects to support economic development and recreational opportunities for rural communities like Fruitvale.
“The project involves a new image and awareness for the Village of Fruitvale,” said Fruitvale Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kelli Tuttle. “Something that we can consistently apply from our theme on Main Street, through our logo, and our branding. We have the Middle School housing development project in the works, so something that will identify that and us (Fruitvale) as a good place to live.”
The support aims to strengthen the stability of towns with populations less than 25,000, through initiatives that embrace the principles of economic development, such as sustainability, self-reliance and engagement.
The Village will hire a consultant to proceed with an economic development work plan, which will engage council, the community and business owners to determine the best fit for Fruitvale.
“So, it will help figure out what our steps are, if we have a goal to make the downtown look a certain way, what’s our first step, second step things like that and create a multi-year plan to develop that image.”
As for the theme, highlighting the Village’s rich history is top of the list for Fruitvale council.
“Council has said, you know we have a rich history in the railway and the lumber industry, why don’t we promote that?” explained Tuttle. “So we are looking at going back to our history and using that as our basis.”
Tuttle says the initiative will begin this summer and expects feedback from the community soon.
“I’ve been in consultation quite a bit with the LCIC (Lower Columbia Initiatives) and we want to make sure that we incorporate into their branding as well. This summer I’ll try to get together with them and see where we go towards hiring a consultant.”
The Village will work in cooperation with the LCIC in proceeding with the rebranding strategy, an investment that can only help current businesses, build future ones, and revitalize pride in the community.
“As someone who lives in a rural community, I know that rural B.C. is the backbone of our economy,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every region of our province, and I’m glad our government is providing these one-time grants to lend extra help to people, communities and economies in rural B.C.”