Hope business sector steers economic development

AdvantageHOPE will use strategic planning session this month to draft a structured 2013 work plan

On Nov. 1, AdvantageHOPE held its second AGM where our accomplishments this year were reviewed and new directors appointed to continue the momentum of our society. An AGM is a pivotal organizational moment in which an analysis of the accomplishments and trajectory of the past informs a clearer understanding of both the current situation and a logical future. Our next step is to turn discussion into a structured 2013 work plan, which will occur at our strategic planning session in November.

Looking back, the 2012 work plan was ambitious. Many objectives have been achieved such as real estate marketing, lobbying for provincial signage, and regular outreach to potential investors. Some priorities remain unfulfilled such as wayfinding signage and promoting the concept of a local investment syndication. In some cases, unforeseen activities took priority over planned goals – such as the electric vehicle charging station, the PNP program I spoke of last month, and advocacy of the Flying J truck stop in Silver Creek.

AdvantageHOPE will move forward in 2013 with new board directors Ruby Rempel (vice-chair), Peter Scherle, and Laurie French. These dynamic individuals will complement our returning directors Wes Bergmann (chair), Cathy Harry (secretary-treasurer), Peter Robb, Scott Medlock, Tammy Shields, Don Wiens, and Gordon Younie. Our team looks forward to tackling the challenges that face our organization and our community in the New Year. In crafting our 2013 work plan, we intend to focus on tasks and goals that we are deeply passionate about, have the ability to be best in the world at, and are key to our economic engine.

The next work plan will be crafted as a group, however I will be bringing these four priorities to our planning sessions later this month.

1. Implemented tax deferral bylaw. A tax deferral bylaw will allow new investments to realize profits before a rising property assessment causes a predictable rise in their taxes. Our neighbours in the Fraser Valley, Okanagan, and throughout the province already utilize this too  – we must ensure we remain competitive in this realm.

2. A clean energy project in construction planning stages. Many of you know my passion for natural gas as a transportation fuel. I am confident that with progressive provincial policy, a local tax incentive like that above, and our natural advantages with respect to transportation and logistics, we can build off our lobbying efforts of 2012 to entice a CNG/LNG provider to Hope.

3. A business relocation or expansion in Hope caused specifically by our efforts. AdvantageHOPE is proud to see 43 new business licenses issued in Hope so far this year, and we know that our actions contributed to some of these business decisions. To date, however, our actions have not been the primary driving force behind a business decision to move to Hope.

4. A clear and well-marketed community brand, propelled by multiple agencies – Already well on its way, an implemented brand is critical to co-ordinate the many efforts from service clubs, government, private business, the Chamber of Commerce, and AdvantageHOPE. Each of our efforts can then combine to allow a new business person, a visiting tourist, or a critical investor to be influenced on multiple levels, be it from a coffee shop barista’s positive comment about the community, an ad in an investment magazine, a realtor’s welcome to a new resident, or the service received while purchasing a new dog license at district hall. With everyone reading from the same book, each of our small individual efforts will accumulate to build momentum, interest, and lasting economic change.

AdvantageHOPE is proud of our work to date, and looks forward to a successful 2013 built off of solid partnerships, co-ordinated marketing, and new tools.