Economic summit spotlights Fraser Valley issues

Breakout sessions feature Fraser Valley economic development and tourism officials, among others.

By Kathleen Rake

This year’s Fraser Valley Economic Summit saw a set of three break-out sessions that ran concurrently between lunch and the keynote address by Melanie Reuter of Real Estate Investors Network (REIN).

The sessions were:Attracting Team, Building Community, moderated by JoyTV; The Next 20 Years in the Fraser Valley, moderated by the Abbotsford News; and a pair of presentations in one session – Successful Regional Collaboration (North Fraser economic development initiative) and Handpicked in the Valley (South Fraser tourism campaign).

Successful Regional Collaboration saw Stacey Crawford (District of Mission), Lori Graham (Pitt Meadows) and Sandy Blue (District of Maple Ridge) present their Invest North Fraser (INF) program, designed to promote and facilitate economic development on the north side of the Fraser River.

Together they have been finding success by pooling their expertise and resources to attract commercial and industrial investment, which means a more diverse tax base and higher-value jobs for residents.

Handpicked in the Valley is the campaign developed in 2011 by the tourism departments of three communities south of the Fraser River. Allison Colthorp (Chilliwack), Deborah Kulchiski (Langley) and Yvonne Hayden (Abbotsford) shared their goal of making the Fraser Valley the destination for visitors from their highly targeted markets in Alberta and Washington State.

They already had success with the Circle Farm Tour series so sought to expand it with “a campaign, not a program,” said Colthorp. Together they pool their financial and human resources to promote experiences –not the region, per se – within this Fraser Valley corridor.

Each community maintains its own visitors’ guide, but now they have one from their collective efforts called the Experiences Guide. “Sales for this guide come easier, quicker and our partners are happy,” added Colthorp.

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