News from the Field - MCBRIDE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OFFICE - What does an EDO do?
Input from the community provides an Economic Development Office (EDO) with the essential fuel to work, and has set the direction for McBride’s EDO. Since 2007, McBride’s Economic Development Office has targeted work initiatives in response to community concerns.
Connecting Community with Local Government
McBride’s EDO has responded to the community’s request for increased communication and access to information. The EDO has created the Economic News – McBride Newsletter, and the EDO website www.mcbride.ca/edo. EDO holds monthly public forums at a local restaurant to encourage communication in a comfortable setting. Community members can access these resources to find out what has been accomplished and what projects are “on the go”.
McBride’s EDO works to assist the public in understanding the constraints and challenges faced by an Economic Development Office, i.e., confidentiality agreements, and lengthy business development time frames.
Building Supportive Infrastructure
Sufficient infrastructure is needed to attract and stabilize business. McBride’s EDO has worked continuously to address the problem of reliable electric power for the community. This has included numerous meetings, petitions, correspondence and most recently a task force which includes BC Hydro’s new Economic Development branch. The EDO also supports local independent power projects and alternate energy research initiatives.
McBride’s EDO successfully launched a project to increase wastewater/sewage treatment capacity in support of residential and business development. The new secondary lagoon employs innovative “green” waste processing techniques while leveraging unique partnerships and land utilization. Best of all, it creates an adjacent riverside “ecopark” which is easily accessed by village residents and tourists.
Attracting and Supporting Investors
An important part of the EDO’s role is to attract and communicate with potential investors who may start or re-locate business in the community. This means publicizing the assets and raw materials the area can offer, hosting interested parties and providing the planning information they require. Currently McBride’s EDO is engaged in discussion with Canadian and offshore investors who may re-vitalize local mill facilities which are currently out of production. Closing of the facilities within the past several years has dealt a difficult blow to the community.
It is important that an EDO can “think both large and small”; providing advice and funding alternatives for a variety of small business and cottage industry ideas. McBride’s EDO has established a “Community Trust Fund” which is designed to fund small initiatives up to $250.00.
Generating Local Employment
The Economic Development Office works to attract new businesses and create an environment that can sustain them. An EDO evaluates community needs and assets, designs projects, and works to solicit re-location, private investment and grant funding. Businesses and projects, in turn, create employment. During the past three years, McBride’s EDO has worked to attain projects funding equivalent to $6000 per Village of McBride resident. An EDO must keep apprised of funding programs, and leverages a considerable “network” to identify and engage potential private investors.
Attracting Residents & Tourists
An EDO works to publicize the community’s assets, e.g., natural scenery, medical and school facilities, to attract new residents of all ages. Economic Development works to secure funding for projects designed to make McBride more attractive to families, seniors and disabled persons. Housing and amenities for seniors are key developments as our population ages and McBride provides an attractive retirement location.
McBride’s EDO promotes projects to make streets, shopping and highway areas more attractive to residents as well as visitors. These range from “Adopt a Highway” to the extensive “Village Loop” walking trail. EDO promotes improvements and events which attract tourism, and works toward full utilization of the community’s programs, facilities and talent.
Balancing Growth with Quality of Life
An EDO needs to achieve a unique balance between preserving the natural environment and stimulating the economy. McBride’s EDO has responded by working to attract industries which employ environmentally sensitive technologies and make use of materials and sites that are currently wasted. McBride’s natural surroundings create a healthy lifestyle that can be leveraged to attract quality residents and business to the community.
Establishing Near and Long Term Strategy
The Economic Development Office combines input from the community with public policy and sound business planning to establish near and long term strategy. McBride’s EDO has published a 2010 - 2015 Economic Development Plan which forms a blueprint for community development activities. This addresses two common Economic Development challenges; communicating drivers and goals, and encouraging the community to work cohesively, rather than in diverse directions.