Collaborative marketing in the Elk Valley

Taking a regional approach to marketing is proving effective for the Elk Valley communities of southeastern B.C.

(L to R) Cindy Gallinger, Sharon Strom, Hugh Moore, Sean Campbell and Corien Sieders represent the Elk Valley Economic Initiative.

(L to R) Cindy Gallinger, Sharon Strom, Hugh Moore, Sean Campbell and Corien Sieders represent the Elk Valley Economic Initiative. — Karen Mills photo

The communities of the Elk Valley of southeastern B.C. are taking a team-style approach to marketing their attractions. Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie formed the Elk Valley Regional Economic Collaborative—recently renamed the Elk Valley Economic Initiative (EVEI)—in 2011, in order to reach a larger audience of potential investors more effectively The EVEI is funded by grants through the Elk Valley Community Directed Funds Program.

Sharon Strom, chair of the EVEI, told Kootenay Business that by working collaboratively and understanding each community’s unique strengths and business potential, the communities will be able to expand opportunities for existing businesses and attract new businesses to become established in the community that suits them best.

“We understand that a business can only be successful and sustainable if it chooses the best location,” Strom said. “And we recognize that if a new business starts in Fernie, for example, it is highly likely there will be spin-off benefits to the other communities in the region.”

Getting results

So far, the team approach is working well, and the EVEI has already had some significant achievements. By mid-2013 it had commissioned and received a final report from the Elk Valley Regional Economic Opportunity Analysis & Growth Sector Identification study

“A Broadband & Connectivity Forum was held to establish the current framework and business needs in the region,” Strom said. “We are working to understand if a Mobile Business License system can be implemented. In June we are hosting a very special event to draw investors to the area. Details should be released in the next few weeks.”

The EVEI will soon have a new website to assist in expanding and diversifying opportunities for businesses. The website will support a business network; increase communications among businesses and organizations; eliminate duplication of effort and activities; and advocate, support and articulate opportunities for business development initiatives. The website will be a central location for content that will provide investors with all the information they need regarding the business structure and opportunities in the area.

Better together

“Many communities trying to achieve economic development individually have a constant struggle because of limited resources,” Strom said. “Our initiative brings diverse resources to the table with municipalities being represented by working staff.”

Strom expressed her gratitude to the many dedicated people who are involved with this initiative. She said it’s incredible what can be accomplished when individuals have a common focus on the good of the community.

“The Kootenay area and EVEI are fortunate to work with several active and effective regional organizations and government agencies,” said Strom. “These regional entities work to bring regional and community partners together, support the formation and implementation of collaborative economic development, and provide targeted assistance such as committee support to achieve goals, guidance, funding support, and/or partnership links.”

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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