GAI project gives Golden businesses a voice

Golden Area Initiatives (GAI) is planning a community economic development project for Kicking Horse Country.

Golden Area Initiatives

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Golden Area Initiatives (GAI) is planning a community economic development project for Kicking Horse Country, according to Denise Wheelhouse, administrative manager of GAI. The Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) project is designed to stimulate economic development and growth by assisting existing businesses.

The Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Golden, Golden Community Resource Centre, Town of Golden, College of the Rockies and other local organizations and residents are working in partnership to implement the Kicking Horse Country BRE Project.

BRE is an action-oriented and community-based approach to business and economic development. It promotes job retention and growth by helping communities learn about issues and the concerns of, as well as opportunities for, local businesses, and set priorities for projects to address these needs. Business development and job creation are key factors in developing healthy and vibrant communities.

Ultimately, communities will have greater success in attracting new business if existing businesses have favourable economic conditions, and strong local support.

Before a community can assist existing businesses, it must identify the businesses’ needs, concerns, and growth opportunities. Through the BRE project, trained researchers visit businesses and gather information.

The local leaders running this program then work to address identified issues and opportunities. Participating businesses will have the ability to have a direct impact on the priorities, initiatives and funding of local and regional economic development agencies that directly support this area. Additionally, participants will receive the rolled-up, regional reports generated from the data gathered.

Selkirk College’s Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI) is supporting communities in BRE implementation through the provision of training for BRE researchers, implementation support materials (BRE manual, confidentiality forms and processes, etc.), access to the online regional e-pulse data management and referral system, and data analysis and report writing support.

“The RDI’s mandate is to support informed decision making through the provision of timely and relevant information and applied research.” said Dr. Terri MacDonald, RDI Regional Innovation Chair in Rural Economic Development.

“With the valuable information collected through community-driven BRE projects in hand, decision makers and economic development practitioners in the region will be well positioned to provide targeted support to our local businesses and to take collection action to improve the overall business climate in our region.”

“A key aspect of this project is confidentiality,” according to GAI’s local BRE lead, Wheelhouse. “We do not publish information on individual businesses. The project is very careful about this confidentiality issue.”

The information gathered from the visits is compiled and analyzed by the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute. The Local BRE Lead and Steering Committee review key findings and recommendations and set into motion a plan for follow up action.

“One of the reasons for the popularity of the BRE project is that it not only supports long range planning for the community but also yields some short-range tangible results,” said Wheelhouse.