The following is a statement released June 15 by the Bulkley Valley Economic Development Agency on Smithers council and Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s decision to not renew their funding for the BVEDA after its contract runs out at the end of the year:
The Board and staff of the Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association have been informed that both the Town of Smithers and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) will no long provide funding to the BVEDA as of January 1, 2018. Although we appreciate that they have a different vision for these funds, we are deeply saddened by their respective decisions as the BVEDA has achieved many things and created valuable partnerships throughout its tenure.
Over the last seven years, the BVEDA has served the Bulkley Valley by initiating programs and providing economic development expertise. It is a unique organization that is working solely in the public’s interest to promote and facilitate economic development throughout the Bulkley Valley. At present, the BVEDA has as its members the Town of Smithers and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. Through the generous support of its members, the BVEDA has been a vital resource to investors, expanding businesses, business start-ups, and people who are interested in researching, exploring, and developing business opportunities. The BVEDA’s ability to support a diverse range of businesses and economic opportunities has been its biggest strength.
Unfortunately, the loss of its core funding means that the BVEDA will not be able to continue its operations past this year. The BVEDA was working towards financial self-sufficiency, however, had not made it there yet. As such, without its member’s support and the certainty of financial stability, the BVEDA Board has decided that the most prudent way forward would be for it to discontinue its services.
The Board and staff are proud of the Association’s accomplishments such as:
Providing expertise and point-of-contact for individuals, businesses, and investors within the Bulkley Valley and beyond.
Bringing another low-cost retailer to Smithers.
Bringing affordable fibre optic networks to Smithers.
Generating millions of dollars in sales for local businesses in the mining sector.
Over 700 client contacts annually
The first stop for investors looking for local business intelligence sources
Developing the busiest co-working space in northern BC.
Partnering with other northwest communities on developing the award winning investment portal www.investnorthwestbc.ca.
Partnering with the BC Innovation Council to deliver the Venture Acceleration Program and generating jobs, revenue, and investment in Smithers.
Building the LoveSmithers.com website with the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
Future for Smithers Coworking Space
The BVEDA is working to find a suitable organization to take over the management of the Smithers Coworking Space so that it can remain open. It is the busiest coworking space in northern British Columbia. We are still planning on moving to our new location because the viability of the new space is greater than the existing space. The BVEDA is working hard on finding a solution.
BC Innovation Council Partnership
New companies in the Bulkley Valley were created by the partnership between the BVEDA and the BC Innovation Council. Existing companies grew because of the partnership as well. The BVEDA provided technology companies with extremely high levels of advice through mentors who had real life experience commercializing new technologies. The partnership also benefited because funding from the BCIC was able to go directly into marketing and programs and not into overhead costs. Those costs were absorbed as part of the normal operation of the BVEDA. As a result, this very successful partnership is now in doubt as finding a suitable organization to take over could be difficult.
The Board would like to take this opportunity to thank our Economic Development Officer, Allan Stroet for his tireless efforts in bringing the office into existence, growing both its budget and its reach. He was instrumental in each and every success of the office over the past seven years.
The Board would also like to acknowledge the time and effort of the past and present members of the Board who volunteered their time, expertise and effort for the betterment of the economy of the Bulkley Valley. Those members include:
Sean Rowell – Current
Al McCreary- Current
Dana Gorbahn- Current
Cameron Groves – Current
Megan D’Arcy- Current
Chris Howard- Current
David Belford- Past/Founding
Paul Wellington- Past/Founding
Joe Wong – Past/Founding
Harvey Tremblay – Past/Founding
Natalie Trueit – Past/Founding
Ian Grieve- Past/Founding
Kym Putnam -Past
Fergus Tomlin- Past