The communities of Rossland, Warfield, Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale and RDKB Area’s A & B have united resources to create a regional Economic Development function called the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC). Recognizing that our region is stronger together and that each community has complementary advantages that can be used to attract and retain businesses, these communities took a collaborative approach to create a regional service dedicated to improving the business community. Having a regional economic development function allows us to set the stage and build the foundation for quality investment to better position all of our communities for success, while simultaneously demonstrating to others that our region is open for business.
LCIC is made up of 2 full time staff and a supportive, engaged, volunteer board of 11 key business leaders from across the region focused on ’inter community’ collaboration to DRIVE economic development in a business friendly environment. LCIC takes pride in its ability to create trusted relationships and partnerships, working closely with municipalities, the business community and the business service providers to create defined and agreed upon strategic priorities that support the region’s best interests.
As the single point of contact for all business development in the region, the LCIC is a well-established, trusted, accountable and independent office that continues to punch above our weight class. In a very competitive and fierce environment of business and workforce attraction, LCIC is a leader with initiatives like the Work West Kootenay website, the local Thriving Communities Metrics campaign and now the new Metal Tech Alley regional marketing campaign.
Work West Kootenay website: based on key recommendations from our regional Business Retention and Expansion Project, skilled labour retention and recruitment was identified as a barrier to business growth. The Work West Kootenay website addresses the issue of attracting and retaining skilled labourers in the rural communities of the region. As many skilled workers head for Alberta or choose to work and live in the costly Lower Mainland, this website promotes the lifestyle and affordability of living and working in our region in a one-stop, up to date resource. This website won the 2014 BECEDA marketing strategy honorable mention award. This initiative was so successful, neighboring communities immediately wanted to be part of the website. Ultimately we were successful in merging with the Invest Kootenay website, which services the entire Kootenay region, to create a site that services a larger region with even more information: ImagineKootney.com, which won 2016 BCEDA Marketing Award.
Thriving Community Metrics: based on our New Residence Survey, 75% of new residents first visited our area as a tourist, fell in love with the lifestyle and found a way to live here; this campaign targets these visitors. The “Thriving Communities” Metrics is a marketing initiative designed to collect, publish and educate local residents on economic indicators, drivers, and activities of interest to the community at large. By showcasing, highlighting and educating residents about the truly positive and sometimes quite surprising facts about the local economy of the region, we created engaged residents, new ambassadors, raised community awareness and at the same time increased LCIC’s profile. This strategy won the 2015 BCEDA Marketing Award.
Metal Tech Alley: based on recommendations from our Foreign Direct Investment strategy, we used our region’s assets and strengths to strategically create an investment attraction marketing strategy that is best suited to our entire region. The strategy is focused on the integration between the existing metal industry businesses and the latest global technological advances in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). It’s the story of the region’s evolution into a highly attractive and competitive location for business and livability, with a major focus on the global business and innovation clusters that are leading economic and business change—not just in the region but from a global perspective. Metal Tech Alley is leading the fourth industrial revolution by building collective partnerships and supporting businesses at all stages, with its cluster of companies in metallurgical and intelligent materials science, industrial matter recycling and the Industrial Internet of Things.
A key part of Metal Tech Alley’s success has been the partnerships that the LCIC has fostered, including: MIDAS Fab Lab, a public-private enterprise initiated by the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST), a non-profit regional organization dedicated to the technology sector; Teck Metals, one of the world’s largest integrated lead zinc smelter; I4C Innovation Centre, an international Industrial Internet of Things Hub, production and testing facility; and Fenix Advanced Materials, a private company experienced in the commercialization of metallurgical industry by-products.
The biggest success of the initiative has been bringing together different municipalities and businesses from the entire region around a common vision and consistent messaging. By unifying the message, the whole region is able to promote an overall vision with greater impact than any one municipality could have on its own. This is a very entrepreneurial approach to Economic Development which could only happen by an entity that has the autonomy and trust of the local elected officials to do what’s best for the entire region.
It’s been 6 years since the inception of the LCIC, with bumps and bruises along the way; but it’s just now that we are starting to see measurable outcomes and results. The communities have stayed true to their vision of a regional economic development function and have continued to fund the organization for a stronger, more competitive business environment than ever!