The Economic Resiliency Task Force (ERTF) in the region continues to secure supports for local businesses while developing a future plan and helping them navigate the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
The ERTF’s regional partnership includes the mayors of Cranbrook, Kimberley, and Canal Flats, as well as the RDEK, and the Ktunaxa Nation Council. Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison, Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka, and other regional organizations such as Cranbrook and Kimberley Tourism, the Cranbrook Downoton Business Association, Community Futures, and the Cranbrook and Kimberley Chambers of Commerce are also participants.
Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt said the whole idea of the ERTF was that each group was concerned about the business community, especially the smaller business that were facing unique challenges. Forcing to close their doors, or drastically change their business model because of COVID-19, the ERTF formed to help provide resources and support to business, and also looking beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and how to ensure continued economic growth and development.
“When we’re really getting into the meat and potatoes of it is when the lockdown’s lifted and they get back to work and that’s when we’ll really kick in,” Pratt told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “We’re hoping to have some really strong ideas and good support for our local businesses in Cranbrook and Kimberley and Canal Flats to get them back up to a good position financially.”
Forming an Action Plan, the ERTF’s goal is to deliver economic resiliency initiatives during and after the pandemic.
Pratt said they are always exploring grant availability and opportunities, applying for whatever reliefs are available.
Given their strong regional partnerships, Pratt believes the ERTF is in a good spot to secure supports as they become available.
“If we have all levels of government and the municipalities and the Ktunaxa involved, when we go to whatever level of government it is and look for some funding possibility that could come our way, they really get excited when they see people working together collaboratively and working for the same goal.”
“What happens when you go there with that process in place, it kind of jumps you up the cue,” added Pratt. “It’s not like you are just looking after yourself and competing with each individual city, so there’s strength in numbers for sure.”
Working alongside local stakeholders in the business community and other community organizations, the ERTF is continuing on its Action Plan and developing ideas to continue attracting investment to the region.
Read: Cranbrook Building Permits Top $28.4-Million to Begin 2020 (April 30, 2020)
“As we get more into getting the lockdown lifted and back to doing business, it will be a while until we get back to normal, but as things open up, that’s when we’ll have some things to report on,” said Pratt.
The ERTF launched as of March 17, 2020, and has since launched an online portal, MyKootenayNow.net, and presented its framework to the BCEDA (British Columbia Economic Development Association) during their Economic Resiliency Webcast. The group has also hosted a virtual town hall with the local business community, and shared resources with other municipalities in B.C. and Ontarios including Sidney, Tumbler Ridge, Elgin County.