Social Enterprise + ‘Place-Based’ Development

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It’s time for positive change in rural BC. It’s time for a fresh new approach to the challenge and opportunities that face rural residents and their communities. An approach that recognizes that the greatest asset any community has… is the place itself!

Enter place-based development.

So what is it? To paraphrase the Government of Canada’s Policy Horizons website, it’s about, “… …stakeholders engaging in a collaborative process to address issues as they are experienced  within a geographical space….a neighborhood, a region, or an ecosystem.” A process that engages participants in collaborative creative and innovative thought and action.

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Researchers at Simon Fraser, Guelph, Montreal, and Memorial universities have described place-based development as, “seek[ing] to reveal, utilize, and enhance the unique, physical and /or human capacity endowments present within a particular location for the development of the… community, and/or its bio-physical environment.” The Project for Public Spaces in the U.S. has referred to place-based development (what they refer to as “placemaking”) as having “… the potential to be one of the most transformative ideas of this century.”

Some of the most common approaches to place-based development include community economic development…

… often led by a social enterprise approach, that sees community-based non-profits create or purchase an appropriate local or regional for-profit business, using the resultant revenues to support the non-profit’s community-focused social, environmental, cultural, or economic goals. Much of the early social enterprise-driven place-based development has occurred in cities. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that this approach has tremendous potential in isolated rural settings as well.

Shorefast Foundation - Fogo Island Hotel

For example, in the case of Newfoundland’s Shorefast Foundation, revenues generated by the spectacular Fogo Island Inn provide support for local entrepreneurs and existing small businesses on a tiny, remote island — place-based development leads to specific products and services that are steeped in the specifics of the place of their origin, adding layers of meaning and added value…

… in the process creating (and keeping) wealth in the community, while generating additional benefits ranging from job creation to a heightened sense of local and regional awareness, pride, and belonging.

We think it’s time to bring social enterprise and place-based development to the Kootenays. Harnessing the unique creativity, the authentic specialness of this particular part of the world.


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