South Okanagan Chambers plan Business Solutions Forums for members.

August 20, 2015


As part of business retention and expansion support for our members, South Okanagan Chambers have been planning a series of Business Solutions Forums.

The need for these forums arises from previous collective work with our business members that has identified that common issues exist in the business community.  These common issues include, but aren’t limited to: cost of living, housing costs and availability, seasonality of much of the available work, shortages in skilled labor, succession planning and business skill building, community reticence to growth, workers with spouses who can’t find employment, etc.

The goal of the proposed business solutions forums is to create the opportunity for businesses struggling with common issues to share existing creative solutions with each other; both to learn from one another and to explore potential collaborative solutions in a neutral environment.

In addition to the Chamber Executive Directors from Penticton, South Okanagan and Summerland, the planning group has included economic development representative from Penticton, Summerland and Osoyoos, economic development staff from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skill Training (JTST) and representatives from Okanagan College School of Business.

Through the fall communities will be organizing and conducting business walks and a number of individual business interviews will also be conducted in order to gather information.  In the early winter of 2016 the forums will be conducted with the goal of determining solutions that can be implemented.  Findings will also be shared with other regions.  Hopefully these forums will provide tangible solutions for our business members and culminate in a stronger more competitive regional business environment.

Christine Petkau is Executive Director at the Summerland Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at cpetkau@summerlandchamber.com.


Summerland Volunteers Help Our Community Thrive

July 30, 2015

Einstein said that not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts.

One of those intangibles in every community, and certainly here in Summerland, are the amazing volunteers here.  Sometimes the effects of their efforts can be very evident, such as the work that the Summerland Rotary group has done to create the new Sunday market.  In fact, when I turn to the Calendar of Events in the 2015 Visitors Guide, I count almost 30 events that are wholly or partially dependent on volunteers for their success.

Others times, volunteers are active in our community in a quieter way such as operating the Food Bank, participating in special library programs, weeding the Ornamental Gardens, creating museum and art gallery displays and programs or participating on one of the Committees of Council.

Economic pundits sometimes try to assign a value to volunteer efforts with a basic hours multiplied by wage equation.  But this is too simplistic.  In our most recent video launched in February, called ‘Our Connected Community’ we talked about supporting the local organizations and events that bring vitality and meaning to our communities.  Vitality and meaning can’t be quantified in dollars and cents but that’s the real power that volunteers both bring to our community and take away in what they gain from having contributed their time.

Visitors notice this aspect of our community as well, and the Chamber talks about our culture of volunteerism in economic development videos and publications because we know this attracts more residents to our community.

At the Granfondo Aid Station in Summerland, early in the morning of July 19, more than 2000 bike riders swept through town, many of them stopping to chat for a moment with us and grab a drink, a treat, some help with their bike or first aid.  Between the Aid Station and traffic control, there were more than 30 Summerland volunteers.  Most of the riders expressed thanks to the volunteers for coming out.  In the coming months, please take a moment to thank a local volunteer that you may encounter.  And if you’re one of those remarkable volunteers, we thank you for contributing to the vitality of Summerland.  It couldn’t happen without your support.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at cpetkau@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Kelly Marshall, at president@summerlandchamber.com .

Christine Petkau is the Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.


Economic gardening helps businesses grow

July 15, 2015

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a 2-day ‘Introduction to Economic Gardening’ workshop in Penticton.  Sponsored by Community Futures Okanagan Similkameen, the course was taught by Chris Gibbons, founder of the National Center for Economic Gardening.

For 20 years Gibbons was the Business Director in Littleton, Colorado.  During that time, employing Economic Gardening principles, the number of jobs in the city doubled from 15,000 to 30,000 and sales tax revenues more than tripled from $6 million to $21 million.  The city did not recruit a single new industry during that period, nor did it offer any money in incentives or tax breaks.

For a community and its businesses to be healthy, new jobs have to be created.  In the US, according to Gibbons, companies with more than 500 staff have not contributed one net job to the economy since 2000.  The reality is that almost 40% of jobs come from companies defined as Stage 2 growth companies – those with 10 or more staff and over $1 million in revenues.  In most communities these represent about 10% of businesses.  These companies represent a community’s wealth creation opportunities and can benefit from economic gardening tools.

So what is economic gardening?  Economic Gardening is strategic research expertise for stage 2 growth companies geared to solving their key problems.

Through interviews with the company’s executive team, researchers will explore a company’s core strategy, their market and team dynamics, their level of innovation and their qualified sales leads.  Then, utilizing highly sophisticated business intelligence databases for market, GIS and SEO research, economic gardening professionals will help a company identify such things as national and global competitors, market trends and key opportunities for growth.

In the US, economic gardening has been utilized for 25 year across 46 states and for those Stage 2 companies that have participated, has contributed to double digit growth in new jobs and revenue.

In the US, the service is supported through Foundations in many states.  In Canada, because no sponsoring organization has yet been identified, there are reasonable fees associated with the service.  The services are offered through the Canadian Centre for Business Growth, headquartered in Penticton.

In a region where we are all searching for ways to support our business members, economic gardening can be a great new tool.  For more information about the program go to: http://edwardlowe.org/tools-programs/economic-gardening/.  To learn more about the Canadian Centre for Business Growth go to: http://www.c2bg.ca/


New initiatives put Summerland tourism in focus

July 6, 2015

In Summerland, one of the roles of the Chamber of Commerce is to promote and support tourism in the community.
In 2014 we launched a comprehensive new website, tourismsummerland.com that engages viewers with more than 80 pages of beautiful images and exciting experiences that can be found here.  We also launched a stunning new tourism video which can be found on the main page of the site.  This year we’ve introduced a digital quarterly tourism newsletter that reaches out to more than 15,000 people in BC and Alberta.

We’re hoping that these initiatives are contributing to our rising numbers – both hard stats in the visitor centre and anecdotally from our tourism and hospitality member businesses.  Last year the Summerland Visitor Centre welcomed more than 12,000 visitors, up more than 30% since 2013, and one of only 3 communities in the Okanagan region to show increased numbers.

There’s no denying that tourism acts as a juggernaut in our local economy.  TOTA estimates that Summerland receives approx. 3% of the annual 1.7 Billion dollars of tourism income in our region.  And the fact is that tourism and economic development are not two separate areas.  Communities now recognize that people who move to the Okanagan and invest likely came here first as tourists.

Last month we had the opportunity to attend TOTA’s 3rd year update of the 10 year strategy they launched in 2012.  A couple of the exciting initiatives they are working on at the Thomson Okanagan level are bike path development and developing our region as a winter destination.  These parallel initiatives that that South Okanagan Economic Development Consortium are also working on – initiatives that recognize that what’s great for tourism is also great for economic development.  And if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that working together on these projects benefits everyone.

You can ride your bike to a new tourism and economic development initiative that’s coming specifically to Summerland this summer. The brainchild of the local Rotary organization, a new Sunday market will showcase Summerland producers, farmers, wineries and merchants and will also provide live entertainment.  The Chamber is supporting the market with promotion as well as summer student support. This great new market, that kicked off Sunday, June 21 (9 am – 2 pm) and will run through September, is already creating great interest.  We hope to see you in Summerland this summer!



Okanagan Continues to Cycle Forward

May 11, 2015

One of the most interesting regional developments over the past few years is the continued forward momentum being generated around cycling.   This is great news for those of us living here and cycling for recreation and commuting as well as for tourism and tourism related cycling events.   And let’s not forget regional economic benefits as those are significant as well.

So what’s been happening since last summer?  In Lake Country a public campaign has been launched to buy an abandoned CN Rail corridor that runs nearly 50 kilometres from Vernon to Kelowna, through orchards, vineyards and along one of Canada’s most beautiful lakes.  A recent referendum regarding borrowing for this project was successful.  There are other issues to address, but  long term, it will be an amazing trail.

In Kelowna, the 2nd phase of their Rails with Trails project has been completed.  It’s also a long term plan but ultimately, this safe, off-road pathway is envisioned to extend from the downtown cultural district to UBC Okanagan Campus, the Kelowna International Airport and beyond.  The bike path I traveled in the Glenmore area recently was beautiful.

Closer to home Penticton is making strides on becoming a designated bike precinct.  The designation would give the province a clear mandate to improve safety and signage for cyclists in the region and help extend our tourism season into the shoulder months.

Penticton, Summerland, and other communities within the RDOS have just wrbike map cover1apped up a major project identifying and mapping cycling routes of interest to recreational riders.  This new map is available at the Visitor Centre.

Here in Summerland, the new bike pathway from Lower Town to Trout Creek will soon be breaking ground and is expected to be ready for riders by late summer.  This pathway is cost shared between the Ministry of Transportation and the District of Summerland and was a major milestone for the Trail of the Okanagans (TofO) advocacy group.

It’s clear that the long-term goal of linking the region from Osoyoos to Shuswap is certainly do-able.  It’s just a matter of time.

Recently we asked you to weigh in.  The Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of the District of Summerland, and the Economic Development department of the City of Penticton utilized a grant provided by BC Healthy Communities to create a cycling survey directed at residents and tourist.  Created by the new President of TofO, Ian Lobb, the survey was designed to capture your views on cycling in the Penticton and Summerland areas.  We asked, “What do you want more of” – safe routes, signage, cycle amenities?  What’s missing from your biking experience?  How often are you cycling and why?  Thank you very much to those of you who took the time to complete it and share your thoughts.  The information we learned will be used for future bike trail planning in our region.


Summerland: Our Connected Community

March 3, 2015

Summerland Chamber of Commerce Launches New Video

The Summerland Chamber of Commerce has launched a new video that demonstrates the impact of local community shopping.

Unveiled on February 28th at the Chamber’s 77th Annual Awards Gala, the video is entitled ‘Our Connected Community’ and introduces viewers to local organizations and to businesses.

Chamber Executive Director Christine Petkau commented at the premier   ‘by now we have all heard the statistic that shopping from a local business leave $68 out of every $100 to recirculate in the local economy.  In January, we decided to put some faces behind that number.  We wanted to ask “What is the real local impact of keeping our dollars in Summerland?  Who are the people and organizations that benefit when we buy goods and services from Summerland businesses?’

Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, said ‘for residents who currently do a lot of shopping outside the community, we want to encourage them to move some of their buying to a Summerland business.  Even 10% can make a significant difference in the community.  And for those who do most of their shopping locally, thank you.  As this video shows, it makes a huge difference in the lives of real people.’

The video, narrated by former Miss Summerland, Maddy Campbell, was created by ET2media and cost shared with the District of Summerland.

About the Summerland Chamber of Commerce: The Summerland Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit society comprised of more than 700 business license holders in Summerland, committed to growing the business community through enhanced member services, tourism and business development.


Celebrating Summerland Volunteers

February 4, 2015

Thank you to the community of Summerland for participating so fully in the nomination process for this year’s Business and Community Excellence Awards.  Nearly 40 different businesses were nominated, some in multiple categories.  Please take the opportunity to congratulate these individuals and check out their websites to learn more about them.

2015 award nominees

The 2015 Business and Community Award Nominees were honoured at a reception held January 30, sponsored by Nesters Market.

Two finalists in each of the 11 award categories will be announced Friday. Chamber members will be asked to vote on the finalists starting February 10. In addition, this year Summerland residents will have the opportunity to vote in the Citizen/Volunteer of the Year category. A separate online survey will be available for residents to vote in this category, along with the option to vote in person at the Chamber Office.

There is a group of very special individuals who it may be more difficult to look up on-line.  For this reason, we wanted to share a little more about the volunteers who the community has recognized with a nomination in the category of Citizen/Volunteer of the Year Award, sponsored by Nesters Market.  Formerly known as the Good Citizen Cup, this award has been given out in Summerland since 1938.  Here are this year’s nominees:

Billy Boerboom

A member of the Summerland Fire Department for 25 years, and a regular volunteer for the Summerland Sportsmen’s Association, Billy is best known as the co-owner of the Apple Barn, and an award winning grower. The Apple Barn’s ongoing commitment to the community includes the donation of hundreds of pounds of apples each year, with much of the donations going to local school programs. In 2012, Billy was one of 4 local firefighters who participated in the “Dragons Den” television program, representing Summerland on a national stage with their invention of a new rescue device for emergency services.

Dave and Alison Carleton

To say that Dave and Alison are dedicated to the success of the Summerland Sportsmen’s Association would be an understatement. As the association’s President (Dave) and Treasurer (Alison), they are instrumental in organizing key events such as the annual fishing derby, game banquet and the association’s participation in Action Festival. The couple is heavily involved with the British Columbia Wildlife Federation, which aims to protect, enhance and promote the wise use of the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. Last but not least, Dave and Alison are members of Summerland Citizens on Patrol, a volunteer program run through the RCMP.

Darlene Forsdick

As the Summerland Sister City Coordinator, Darlene developed a Sister City plan that has strengthened the ties between Summerland and the community of Toyokoro, Japan. She has led important initiatives such as coordinating an annual teaching placement of a Summerland teacher in Toyokoro, and organizing student visits to Summerland as well as government delegates. The Sister City plan places a strong focus on highlighting Summerland’s economic opportunities and tourism experiences to our friends in Japan.

Carleen Murray

Carleen is the co-owner of AlCar Storage with her husband Al. While running her business, she makes time to support a number of organizations, both with her time and her creativity.  Whether she is volunteering at the Seniors’ Center or for a local school breakfast club, or supporting local literacy by making wallets for children to store their very first library cards, Carleen is always finding small ways to brighten someone’s day. Children receiving treatment at Penticton Hospital’s pediatric ward receive bright, handmade pillow cases made by Carleen.

Carla Omenzetter

Carla has a long history of volunteerism and giving back to the community. Carla has served as a city councilor, as a volunteer director and Secretary on the Community Futures-Okanagan Similkameen Board of Directors, and is the past president of Agur Lake Camp, and worked to increase the profile of the Agur Lake Camp Society and attract more volunteers. Carla is an unstoppable cheerleader for Summerland, giving her time to important local groups and events such as the Summerland Rodeo Grounds Equine Development Committee, and the annual Action Festival.

Barbara Thorburn

Barbara’s commitment to community is expressed in a variety of rich and rewarding forums. From her key role in the “Philosopher’s Cafe”, the Arts community and down to her role in grassroots political activism Barbara gives so much back to her community. Barbara works tirelessly both as a point person and again, from behind the curtain, planning, organizing and ensuring so many initiatives reach their respective potential.

Terry Sedawie

Terry regularly goes above and beyond her work as a senior account manager with RBC in Summerland. She was instrumental in the coordination and opening of the Artisans of the Okanagan, and regularly promotes cross promotion and advocates ways that local businesses can work together for greater success. While her expertise has helped many in the business community, Terry also gives her time to youth organizations, making herself available as a mentor or just a ear to listen.

Henry Sielmann

There are few Okanagan trail lovers –whether they be hikers or bikers – who haven’t heard of Henry Sielmann. As the current President of the Summerland Trans Canada Trail Society, Henry has been instrumental in promoting the trail, including the development of a dedicated website for the society. Henry is now also lending his expertise to the new Trail of the Okanagan’s Lakeshore Pathway project. He volunteers as a board member on the District of Summerland’s Climate Action Committee, and has also served as a volunteer director for the Summerland Fall Fair.

The Mayor’s Award of Excellence

The Mayor’s Award of Excellence continues to be an important acknowledgement of community leadership.  This award will be given at the Mayor’s discretion at the Gala to an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to Summerland.

Awards will be given out to the winners at the 77th Annual Awards Gala on February 28th.  The Gala will be held at The Summerland Waterfront Resort.  Tickets are available from the Chamber office.

Thank you for taking the time to nominate a business or volunteer who has made a difference in our community.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at manager@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, at president@summerlandchamber.com .




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,870 other followers