The reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
A full slate of work is on the table for the Lower Columbia Initiative Corporation (LCIC), with two major projects expected to move and shake economic development in the region.
LCIC executive assistant Terry Van Horn said the institution is ready to roll out the Business Retention and Expansion study—a full six months in the making—and will be implementing some of its findings in the next few months.
Its part of a robust work plan for the year, a few weeks after the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary announced it was cutting funding to the organization.
“We are going to do what we’re saying and say what we are doing,” she said. “It’s really a message that we are determine to make this work and we are focused on what (regional businesses) are saying and trying to include them.”
Regardless of funding, the LCIC board still believes a regional economic development focus is necessary for the region, and that it is the best way for the region to be prosperous and grow.
The LCIC will continue on in the region, said Van Horn, and will be taking one or two of the recommendations from the report and will be moving forward with them.
One of the key findings of the report was the lack of training for the businesses and the need for affordable training opportunities.
“A lot of the businesses in our area thought they had a real hard time brining in skilled labour, and keeping them,” said Van Horn. “And we have taken those challenges on and are working on the workforce renewal committee with the Lower Columbia Community Development Team on a recruitment package targeting the employers.”
The packages can be given to prospective employees, and contains information for spouses and family on local services and avenues to find work in the region.
The LCIC will also be partnering with regional chambers of commerce—including Rossland—the Trail Skills Centre and Community Futures and see if, on a regional perspective they can provide a couple of “worthy” course and educational training programs for the businesses themselves.
“That was one of the keys to business retention and expansion,” said Van Horn.
The LCIC board of directors will be undertaking a program review in light of the East End Services (EES) committee of the regional district’s decision to terminate funding the Economic Development Services Agreement with the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS) at the end of 2013.
“Our board looks at this as an opportunity to review our programming and we look forward to the LCIC providing economic development services within a revised financial model,” said LCIC chair Don Thompson.
The review has included an assessment of the resources required to undertake the planned 2013 initiatives while providing effective economic development leadership to the Lower Columbia region.
The LCIC will continue to carry out its mandate under the direction of Van Horn in her expanded role as economic development coordinator.
As well, the LCIC will be keeping businesses informed through forums, and have a facilitated action plan session with development stakeholders and industry representatives.
“In the past a lot of the economic development braintrust sat without those reps to forge solutions for economic development. Now the industry has said they want to be part of that,” said Van Horn.
The LCIC would be a facilitation means to get those people together.
“We really believe funding for the future will happen,” said Van Horn. “We’re not exactly sure of it yet, but there are discussions going on with everybody right now and we are looking at any source of funding.”
The EES—that includes Rossland—deemed the LCIC was too costly for what was delivered in return, and recommended to the RDKB board to withdraw funding to the LCIC after its three-year contract ended in December.
The EES contributed $224,000 per year to the LCIC, with Rossland taxpayers shelling out over $40,000 per year.
The LCIC was set up as part of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team society (LCCDT) to focus economic development services within the Greater Trail region.