For some time now we’ve been working on a proposal to create a dynamic new economic development driver for our region and the rest of the Columbia Basin.
We call it the Kootenay Centre for Applied Creativity — or simply “the Centre.” The idea is to host summits and conferences throughout the year on themes that matter to Basin residents — that will spell more visitors and an economic boost for the region. Summits and conferences that will generate ideas and actions designed to create good jobs, and help us tackle our most pressing issues.
WHAT? MORE CONFERENCES?!
Last year Kaslo hosted the BC Rural Communities Summit. Last month Salmon Arm hosted something called the Rural Development Conference. These are worthwhile events, bringing together presenters and participants who typically spend a couple of days addressing some very important topics.
Then everyone goes home, and nothing happens. Until the next conference, the next year.
What’s missing is an organization completely focused on making sure these kinds of events are worthwhile. That excitement momentum, and enthusiasm around outstanding ideas isn’t lost in the ensuing drive home. Events featuring timely, relevant topics. With fantastic speakers & presenters. An organization that ensures that things do happen after the gatherings. That talk is followed by action. An organization focused on ways residents, organizations, businesses, and governments can succeed in rural, isolated regions like ours.
This all requires more than a general gathering every year or two. It requires a steady stream of focused, engaging activity, year-’round.
It also requires follow-through by an organization with the resources to lead the communications charge, so that good ideas, useful suggestions, and potentially helpful connections aren’t lost or forgotten, like so many conference business cards shoved in a dresser drawer, then forgotten.
That’s why we’re proposing to create the Centre.
PUTTING TOGETHER THE PIECES
Ours may be a sprawling, sparsely populated part of the planet. But we also boast some world-class assets. Including our spectacular natural environment. Our charming towns, villages, and hamlets. An unusual number of highly entrepreneurial residents. Many lean, nimble small businesses (and a handful of big ones). Hundreds of community-run non-profits. And a handful of large organizations and institutions like the Rural Development Institute, College of the Rockies, Selkirk College, Community Futures, Columbia Basin Broadband Corp., and of course, Columbia Basin Trust.
So who’s pulling all these assets together? Who’s looking for ways to leverage our regional assets, to our mutual (and local) benefit? Who’s looking further afield to find innovative solutions to our challenges, searching out and reeling in meaningful strategic partners” Who’s providing the inspiration to go after new opportunities? Who’s out there making things happen?
Where’s our savvy, bold, economic (and social and cultural) catalyst?
We couldn’t find one. That’s why we decided to create the Centre.
FINE-TUNING THE VISION
Since last September we’ve thought long and hard about all this. We’ve met with thought leaders and decision makers from across the Basin, from across BC and around the world (and continue to do so). We’ve received strong statements of support from local, regional, provincial, and federal governments, with more in the works. We’ve reached out to potential partners, searching for innovative, appropriate ways to maximize the benefits of what we have in mind for as many Basin stakeholders as possible.
We’re getting oh-so close to a final version of the concept we’re completely pumped about. A concept that will clearly bring a new and much-needed dimension to our region’s economic, social, and cultural sectors.
And as soon as we do, you’ll be the first to know! Through this website, social media, and public events where we’ll clearly lay out our plans, and solicit your feedback and suggestions.