Kelowna Women in Business: Working to keep the economy churning

The key to attracting new business to this area is to keep the businesses that are already here healthy and to help them grow.

For Corrie Griffiths, business development officer with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, the key to attracting new business to this area is to keep the businesses that are already here healthy and to help them grow.

“For new business to locate here, we need strong existing businesses,” says Griffiths, adding that between 65 per cent and 80 per cent of new jobs in this area will be created by companies already operating here.

This success-breeds-success strategy for attracting new companies to the Central Okanagan is a key part of what the EDC is doing these days as it works to help the region’s economy grow.

But like the businesses it helps, the EDC has its work cut out for itself in a time of increased regional, national and global competition.

As one of the fastest growing areas in Canada, the Central Okanagan has many advantages, including both lifestyle and business-related, and it’s the EDC’s job to sell potential newcomers on the merits of locating here.

So being able to point to established and ongoing success is a helpful tool, she says.

But there are also challenges, including some of the very things that are helping fuel positive changes here.

For instance, a growing population is helping bring more amenities to the area as newcomers bring ideas from where they lived before arriving here.

But that same population growth is also affecting other areas such as property values and the need for expanded municipal services which impact taxes.

Housing prices are on the rise and considered high here compared with the rest of the country—a consideration for a company when deciding to come here.

While it cannot directly impact areas of jurisdiction controlled by municipalities in the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, the EDC does provide information to help local politicians as they wrestle with issues such as tax rates, services, amenities.

But despite those challenges, Griffiths sees the Central Okanagan as a place with plenty to offer companies looking to either relocate or set up shop.

With a university offering research and development opportunities and helping to train a top class workforce, a college offering a myriad of skills training opportunities, and an airport with direct links to other major Canadian and U.S. centres, Kelowna is seeing interest from outside business investors, said Griffiths.

Part of her responsibilities are technological attraction and the lucrative Alberta market, two of the areas where the Central Okanagan is making major headway.

While the recent announcement about direct flights from Kelowna to Fort McMurray is good news for the thousands of locals who work in the Alberta Oil Sands industry, it is not the first connection.

Griffiths said there are already a number of companies here that supply parts and equipment to that industry.

During one of the EDC’s recent Business Walks—a local initiative where municipal, business and provincial officials went door-to-door asking businesses how they are doing and what they need to succeed and what they would like to see happen here—a large number of small industrial businesses were identified, many operating in the city’s north end.

Griffiths, an American who emigrated to Canada 11 years ago and has been with the EDC for the past seven years, has a background in both the public and private sector having worked for several years with the State of California parks department in research and planning.

She said the Business Walk, which has been held three times here, not only helps the EDC stay in touch with what local business needs but also lets the local and provincial governments know as well.

Given that the latter two are in a position to directly help businesses with their respective policies, that type of communication is critical, she added.

 

awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Just Posted

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Possible rainfall rates of up to 25 milimetres in one hour.

STEM summer camps focus on math, science learning

Programs offered at UBCO campus encourage hands-on fun

Futures court stars make stop in Kelowna

Kelowna Futures Tennis Tournament goes June 25 to July 1 at Parkinson Rec Centre courts

Blasting warning for West Kelowna

West Kelowna permit issued for blasting to start this week

Glenrosa residents asked to secure garbage

WildSafeB.C. issues warning about bears

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

Pippins halt Falcons’ winning streak at 3

YAKIMA, WA. – The Kelowna Falcons had their three-game West Coast League… Continue reading

FIFA World Cup weekly roundup

Host nation Russia remains unbeaten in Group A, tied with Uruguay

Star Gazing: Using a large telescope

Ken Tapping, astronomer with the National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory

Trudeau says he can’t imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs

New tariffs on Canadian autos entering the U.S. would amount to a self-inflicted wound on the U.S. economy

Temperature records broken across B.C., again

The first heat wave of the season went out with a bang across the province

Canada’s first national accessibility law tabled in Ottawa

The introduction of the Accessible Canada Act marked a key step towards greater inclusion

Police chief calls for mass casualty plan in Saskatchewan after Broncos crash

Former Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill said the office was tasked with creating such a plan 13 years ago but none exists

U.S. schools mum on ties to doc in sex abuse inquiry

A now-dead doctor accused of sexual misconduct acted as a team physician at other universities

Most Read