Mark Laver started as Castlegar and District’s new economic development manager in November 2017. Photo: Chelsea Novak

Castlegar poised for economic growth

Economic development manager seeing uptake in business inquiries.

Castlegar and District’s economic development manager says things are looking positive for the economic future of the area.

Mark Laver talked to city council Monday night about what has been happening with the local economy in the 10 months since he took the position.

The economic development manager position is funded by a partnership between the City of Castlegar, RDCK Areas I and J and the Columbia Basin Trust.

Laver is tasked with encouraging economic growth in the region and by all reports, he’s been a really busy guy.

“Economic development is not a quick win type of scenario — it is a long term investment,” explained Laver.

Initiatives coming out of the economic development office include a new website, an ongoing inventory of businesses and business-suited lands or spaces for sale or lease, the Castlegar Explorers App, and numerous marketing initiatives.

Since launched about a month ago, it has seen over 700 visitors exploring the site. The site is targeted at anyone considering starting a business in the Castlegar area, or thinking about moving here.

The site has a number of helpful tools such as an inventory of commercial spaces available for sale, rent or lease in the area, a wealth of facts and statistics about the region, a list of business development resources including workshops, and an analysis of gaps in local economic developments.

RELATED: Economic development web site launched for Castlegar

Another initiative coming out of the economic development office has been a campaign to attract microbreweries to the area. The plan included advertising and a mailer sent to microbreweries across the province.

Business retention and expansion is also a big part of the job — supporting businesses whenever possible and connecting them to the right people to help meet their needs and accomplish their goals.

Laver says about 80 per cent of business investments are from a local source.

The economic development office is currently managing about 50 active business inquiries.

Examples of some of the business leads include tech companies interested in building data pods, a financial service provider, a software company, a small package delivery company, a power sports business and a forestry trucking company.

“I am happy that this council around the table along with Areas I and J and the CBT to make this happen,” said councillor Florio Vassilikakis.

“It is exciting … people are interested in coming to Castlegar. I get the feeling there has been a change in the positivity of the business people in Castlegar. It has to do with a lot of things, but certainly the economic development office and your [Laver’s] position give people the confidence that city council and the Chamber of Commerce are supporting business owners and economic development.”

RELATED: New and expanding businesses abound around Castlegar

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