District approves economic development strategy

West Kelowna business development officer John Perrott says 2014 will bring "a big workload" as the district continues with several economic development initiatives.

West Kelowna council unanimously approved its 2014 Economic Development Strategy Tuesday.

This year, the district will focus on improving its economic development website information. It will also look to establish a social media presence to connect with locals, investors and those interested in what's happening in West Kelowna's business community.

"Westbank Centre continues to be a priority for us," said Perrott.

The district updated its brochure, highlighting recent investments made by the private and public sector in Westbank Centre. It has started developing a video to showcase the business activity that's happening in the area. And, to celebrate the recent Brown Road improvements, the district is planning a kick-off event to showcase the area as a community gathering point and events location.

Also included in the strategy is installing improved signage to the municipality's industrial area.

Perrott plans to attend out-of-town events, such as a shopping centre conference in Whistler to attract businesses to the area, as well as home shows in Fort McMurray and Edmonton to showcase the region to those who may want to work in northern Alberta, but spend their days off in the Okanagan.

Ideas implemented in the strategy were gathered through strategic planning discussions, the 2013 Breakfast with Business and Manufacturing Roundtable events and various district master plans and documents.

Perrott also shared several highlights from 2013 at Tuesday's council meeting, including: Improved connection with local businesses, process improvements to annual events and services, and growing awareness of the services available within the community.

According to Perrott, business is improving throughout the district.

"The business climate is much more optimistic. I think we're seeing that through the number of inquiries coming through our front door, investments being made by our local businesses…they talk about being busy, looking for staff," said Perrott.

"To me there's a lot of those informal indicators that really show we're in a much more positive climate, compared to 18 or 24 months ago."

Twitter: @PatersonWade


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