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Economic Development

Policy Area 5: Economic Development

Over the past two decades the North Okanagan has moved away from its historic reliance on forestry and mining to include a diverse mix of industries. As a popular tourism and retirement destination, significant investment and construction activity has occurred over a number of years. The region is one of BC’s premiere agricultural production centres, and it has a growing number of high tech and manufacturing businesses. Particularly in recent years, the North Okanagan has emerged as a sought after location for film production.
The Regional Growth Strategy recognizes that a strong economy is supported by communities working together to attract and retain business. Competition between local governments or business associations will only weaken the region's appeal to the business sector and will impede economic performance.
Recognizing that long term economic sustainability and resilience is one of the key themes of the RGS, the Regional District and City of Vernon in collaboration with the five other member municipalities, and the Okanagan and Splatsin Indian Bands have developed an Employment Lands Action Plan. Completed in 2016, the result is an action-oriented plan which will assist the North Okanagan to market and develop employment lands, and to generate new employment opportunities over the next five years.

How Are We Doing?

The 2013 Quality of Life Survey results revealed that the worst performing policy area of the RGS was Economic Development and respondents indicated it needed more attention. When asked to choose which factors would improve quality of life in the North Okanagan, the majority of survey respondents selected ‘employment’. In this regard, it was not surprising that the perceived ability to earn a living by operating a profitable business or finding acceptable and fulfilling employment, was rated, on average as less than ‘fair’. Similarly, the ability of survey respondents to find a job that meets their skills, training, and experience, was also rated, on average, as less than ‘fair’.

The survey results revealed that economic opportunities were more likely to be rated lower by respondents from North Okanagan communities wherein housing availability was also rated lower relative to other communities. This finding suggests that a supply of suitable housing is important to attracting and retaining both business owners and employees and thus has an important role in economic development.

Implementation of action items outlined in the Employment Lands Action Plan will require the collective commitment of the regional partners to ensure desired results are achieved. As action items are addressed, outcomes should be monitored, measured and reported; and successes should be celebrated.