Mary Austin: How does economic development benefit you?

How do you create a thriving community? One where people want to come and stay, invest, work and play?

Mary Austin is a regular Trail Times contributor with her column

How do you create a thriving community? One where people want to come and stay, invest, work and play?

Can one single spokesperson advocate on behalf a region of 20,000 people spread over seven municipalities to create this vision?

No single small municipality could realistically afford a dedicated Economic Development office. The Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation ( was created to speak for all of the communities of the Lower Columbia region (Trail, Rossland, Fruitvale, Area A, Area B, Warfield and Montrose).

It became our regional voice to gather economic information and create a strategy to bring future investment and growth to the whole area. Simply stated, its goal was to serve existing businesses and start ups to create jobs.

Terry Van Horn now leads the LCIC economic development team of two from her office above the Trail post office. She has not only continued to provide a one-stop shop for local, national and international investors, but is a zealous champion of our local business advantages wherever she travels. Some of her key pitches of our region include: a business-friendly community, a highly skilled workforce, inexpensive industrial land, reliable power, strong transportation networks, as well as access to the world-renowned recreation that draws locals and newcomers alike.

The LCIC is not only a cheerleader and source of valuable information for those interested in economic opportunities in the region.

Tourism operators and employers alike now direct skilled workers considering a move to our region to the LCIC because of their great enthusiasm for the region and its benefits. Terry`s team keeps current on all of the recreation, healthcare and educational resources an individual or family could require.

The LCIC promotes workforce development by fielding simple but important questions including: “What types of educational opportunities are available, how far is the closest hospital, and what sort of skiing, hiking, fishing, biking, hockey or other recreation exists?”

Terry is able to see our region for all its strengths and showcase them as a package.

So how does the LCIC work for you?

Not only does a shared economic development resource save your tax money by pooling resources, but most importantly, the LCIC “sets the scene” for investment. By spotting local regional advantages amongst international trends and informing potential investors, investment can occur with confidence. Community growth begins with the hiring of new employees and blossoms into a vibrant and healthy community with increased housing starts, improved amenities and new families relocating to the region.

Can you also be a part of economic development for our area?

Terry is a great example of the success that a positive ambassador can create for our region. When tourists come to our hometowns, they often comment on the warmth and friendliness of our people. Many newcomers have remarked that they relocated because they felt safe, secure, welcomed and informed about opportunities for work and play. We all want our region to grow and prosper.

Let’s all take a page out of the LCIC and promote the excellence of life and work in the Lower Columbia region so that we can continue to move forward together.

Mary Austin is an active Board Member for both Community Futures and the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS). She is the Chair of the Lower Columbia Tech Club and the Lower Columbia Women’s Business Club. She is also co-owner of Austin Engineer Ltd. and feels fortunate everyday to be able to live and work with her family in this community.

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