As we approach the end of 2022, the Nakusp and Area Development Board (NADB) has taken some time to reflect on this past year-and-a-half and the work we have undertaken in the community. There have been many successes and just as many challenges over that time, and we are greatly encouraged about the future of our area.

We would have been unable to accomplish this work without the generous investments from various local and regional organizations, including the Village of Nakusp, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) Area K, the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC), the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), and the Nakusp and Area Community Forest (NACFOR). Through the dedicated work of our members and Economic Development Coordinator, Aidan McLaren-Caux, we have managed to bring in over $183K in funding for economic development in this community.

We regularly engage with our funders and with local leaders to determine what the pressing needs are locally, and we formulate a strategic plan to address what we can with our limited resources. At our most recent check-in, we established that supporting local agriculture and value-added forestry, ongoing business advisory, improved signage and wayfinding, and off-season tourism were the main areas where we could effectively have a positive impact for Nakusp and the surrounding area. Our overarching objective is to act as the connector for the various groups in the area, inform people about programs and resources, and to support other organizations as they pursue progress in their respective fields.

Some of the specific projects we have underway include:

Grow Arrow Lakes, which is a branding and promotional initiative whose purpose is to market and highlight our wonderful local agricultural producers and build capacity and resiliency in the local sector, by increasing awareness and the economic viability of local agriculture.  We are currently waiting for a funding announcement for the continuation of this project.

The Small Forest Tenures Capacity Building Project, which is something we have been working on in conjunction with NACFOR and the Woodlot Product Development Council, is onto Phase 3 in which we are exploring the feasibility of various ideas, including a log-lumber-information exchange as well as a co-operative sawmilling operation.

Since June of 2021, we have been carrying out ongoing business advisory services, funded by the Rural Business and Community Recovery program through ETSI-BC. Over that time, we have engaged with many of the over 200 businesses that exist in the Arrow Lake Valley. Our work has ranged from sharing various government funding and support opportunities to providing organizational support to other non-profits and membership

organizations to doing more in-depth work with businesses, such as strategic planning sessions or support with grant-writing among many other things. As we have come through a challenging couple of years, from the pandemic to the heat dome, forest fires and smoke, and flooding that disrupted vulnerable supply chains, there has been a constant demand for guidance and support from our business community to help navigate these unprecedented times.

Through funding from the Village of Nakusp and the Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Program of CBT/RDCK, we will be developing a signage and wayfinding plan for Nakusp that will complement our newly completed downtown revitalization. Once the plan is created, we can pursue other funding opportunities to realize this vision.

We continue to work closely with the Arrow Slocan Tourism Association (ASTA) to build out destination marketing opportunities that promote sustainable tourism in our region, including an upcoming agri-tourism map that will promote our local agriculture-producers.

Working with our community to find solutions

Throughout the past 18 months, we have also been representing the Nakusp and Arrow Lakes region at various regional economic development tables and professional development organizations. We continue to be the first point-of-contact for Imagine Kootenay, which provides an invaluable connection-service for investors and entrepreneurs and employers and employees alike. We have also been an active member of the Economic Development Practitioners Network (EDPN), being a member of their steering committee, which provides a regional perspective and an opportunity for networking and collective problem-solving. From that connection, we have plans to hold their annual dialogue here in Nakusp over this winter, where we can showcase all the exciting things happening in our area.

One of the most common themes we have heard in our engagement with local businesses has been the labour shortage faced by employers, many of whom are in desperate need of staff. Consequently, we have partnered with Community Futures Central Kootenay and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to join the West Kootenay Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) program, which is a community-led immigration-based program designed to bring skilled permanent residents to rural communities, which will hopefully be part of the solution to address this labour shortage.

With generous funding from CBT, we have been facilitating a year-long ‘Buy Local Nakusp’ campaign that you may have seen throughout the area. Thus far, we have had positive feedback on the initiative. Keep an eye out at your favourite local shops before the end of the year for how to participate.

As you can see, we have had our work cut out for us over the past 18 months. As our community continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing economic and demographic circumstances of our time, we believe there is great value in providing that guiding hand and connection to others as we enter this uncertain future together.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our ongoing funders and to the community at-large for supporting us as we support each other. Thank you for your time and your attention, and we look forward to continuing to work together.