Economic team seeks regional funding to continue services

LCCDTS has approached Greater Trail councils with a 5-year plan to maintain its service as the "first port of call" for regional businesses.

A three-year economic initiative is appealing to all Greater Trail communities to keep the forward thinking business plan running as a benefit to the entire region.

Mike Martin, board chair of the Lower Columbia Communities Development Team Society (LCCDTS), the regulating body of the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) and Terry Van Horn, LCIC’s economic development coordinator, approached Montrose council last week and Trail, Warfield and Rossland councils Monday, with a five-year plan to maintain the economic service as the “first port of call” for businesses within the region.

Martin maintains the LCIC as a face of the future in the region and its team, including the board of directors, has pulled together an updated operating model to move ahead with delivery of services.

“We are approaching each council and electoral areas as soon as possible,” explained Martin to Trail council members at Monday’s operations meeting. “The intent is to try and move the process forward with some urgency,” he said. “We would like to get some commitment to allow for continuity of our operation and planning in 2014.”

Following a service review in 2013, the regional district cited the initiative’s high cost and lack of sustainability as impetus to no longer fund the society $224,000 per year as flow-through funding for the LCIC.

With a revamped proposal of service, a new potential partner in the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), and a commitment to seek $25,000 annually through grants, the corporation is asking municipalities to reconsider kicking in funding through the regional district based on a percentage breakdown of taxation.

“Right now our approach will be to go back to the East End Services and see if we can do this on a regional basis,” explained Martin. “One of the elements we were challenged with for continuation of service was to come up with a different model,” he noted. “We think the model is right, but we needed to deliver it at a lower cost.

“And I think we’ve accomplished that.”

Overall, the LCCDTS is asking the regional district for 80 per cent of the funding, or $176,000 for each year through to 2019 to cover the cost of delivering economic development services in the region.

CBT has provisionally committed to funding 20 per cent of the service, or $50,000 annually, with the exception of next year, because it has already provided $7,500 through a previous LCCDTS agreement.

“We’ve worked really hard to be a regional office and focus on the entire region because what benefits one benefits all,” said Van Horn. “We’ve only had three short years but have already overcome some really great hurdles,” she continued. “I can honestly say we are the first point of contact now and want that to continue.”

Since inception, the LCIC has fielded 87 investment enquiries ranging from new and existing manufacturing opportunities, to business and land investments, to large housing development, said Van Horn.

She cited the recent sale of the Beaver Falls Motel, an establishment that sold two weeks after direct contact through the LCIC office.

“We’ve concentrated on trying to attract interest in our community locally, provincially and on a foreign basis,” said Van Horn. “We’ve been very successful in bringing people to our region who have never heard of it before. We want to get people excited that our region is thriving and economically healthy.”