Community Futures Collaborates on Business Outreach
Cowichan economic development and business organizations are forging a new partnership to consult with local businesses and help support their future development. Starting in early November, the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures and Economic Development Cowichan will be collaborating on a series of six sector consultations aimed at bringing together business leaders in tourism, agriculture, retail, manufacturing and processing, technology, and construction and real estate. The sessions will be facilitated by Ron Lees, Director of Public Sector Advisory Services for the accounting and consulting firm MNP LLP.
The roundtable series stems from the Cowichan Economic Outlook Breakfast in March 2016. Hosted in partnership by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Cowichan and MNP, the purpose of the event was to release and discuss the results of the first-ever MNP Business Leaders Survey for the Cowichan region.
A key theme heard at the event, which attracted more than 100 business and community leaders from across the Cowichan Valley, was the need for increased communication and collaboration amongst communities and organizations in the region, coupled with a renewed focus on economic development.
With the recent hiring of Amy Melmock as the new Economic Development Manager for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Economic Development Cowichan has become actively engaged in the sector consultation partnership along with the Chamber, Community Futures and MNP.
“The roundtables are a chance for businesses to share common issues and concerns – and to feed this information into our collective strategies for economic development,” Melmock acknowledges. “For the benefit of our business community, we’re making a commitment to act in partnership – now, and as new programs emerge.”
“The roundtable sessions will give us an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the kind of investment and training programs businesses feel are crucial,” predicts Community Futures General Manager Cathy Robertson.
From a Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce perspective, the roundtables are part of an “ongoing pledge to connect businesses and advocate for their needs,” says Executive Director Sonja Nagel.
As the facilitator for six roundtable sessions, Ron Lees says the roundtable format will encourage frankness and open discussion. “We expect these consultations will open the door to new levels of collaboration between everyone involved,” he concludes.