Kelowna and Scottsdale officials are discovering their respective communities have plenty in common.
Following a three-day series of meetings, presentations and round-table discussions in the Arizona city last week, hosted by the Kelowna Scottsdale Business Council, it was revealed a number of education, medical research, entrepreneurship and tourism initiatives are already under way.
The council, set up to look at ways the two city’s can work together, especially through tourism and business, hosted the first Kelowna-Scottsdale summit last week in Scottsdale.
The summit followed last September’s visit here by Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and a delegation from the city, which is a suburb of Phoenix.
Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray, who led the local delegation, called the connection between the two cities much more than a typical sister-city relationship.
“We want to realize real-life, collaborative partnerships that benefit both cities right away,” said Gray.
The Kelowna Scottsdale Business Council’s mission is to assist and facilitate the commercial and social interaction of individuals, companies, and organizations in pursuing cross-border relationships to increase business, and support trade growth and investment.
“This summit is all about business and driving relevant connections to bring the synergy together quickly and practically,” said Lane.
Last week’s schedule included presentations by John Taft of RBC, and Mark Dewane, president of the Scottsdale Business Development Forum, who spoke on the value of cross-border alliances between the two regions.
The tour portion included visits to DIRTT Environmental Technology, which maintains offices and factories in both Kelowna and Phoenix.
Other visits included the Scottsdale Cure Corridor and the famous Mayo Clinic, as well as Scottsdale Airpark.
Officials said one of the most important meetings took place Friday via video conference between Gray, deputy vice-chancellor and principal of UBC Okanagan Deborah Buszard, Janice Kleinwort, Jim Cook and Todd Hardy, senior representatives of Arizona State University Skysong innovation centre.
Common ground was reportedly found in entrepreneurship programs, the North American Law Degree program and possible participation in recent ASU and Mayo Clinic plans for a joint medical school in Scottsdale.
The council says residents of both cities can expect to see consumer-driven benefits of the new relationship between the two cities as early as this spring. Recognizing opposite tourism seasons, the M Club golf properties organization is already in discussion with several Okanagan golf clubs, including Predator Ridge, to arrange what it is calling “advantageous” reciprocal usage. It is expected that a number of golf clubs and resorts in both Scottsdale and Kelowna will join the program over time.
Gray said at the conclusion of the summit in Scottsdale, he and other Kelowna representatives were taken on a tour of the world-famous Barrett Jackson automobile auction. “It was amazing. Cars for as far as you could see,” sa id Gray on Monday.