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Rivercorp chief appeals for more funding

Rivercorp’s chief economic officer says the organization needs more staff in order to attract the industry that will get Campbell River’s economy booming again.

Vic Goodman says Rivercorp is looking to add two new positions to its staff – an economic development officer with a salary of $53,663 per year and a development researcher at a price of $41,111 a year.

The economic development officer would introduce a full-scale business and retention program focused on nurturing and supporting existing businesses in Campbell River.

“It’s dedicated work because you have to go out and personally talk to them (businesses), you can’t rely on surveys,” Goodman says.  The economic development research analyst would assemble information and materials as well as identify specific businesses and targeted industry sectors.

“If we have the researcher to do the background work it frees up my role to be able to focus on the primary job of advancing the economic development agenda,” Goodman says.

But at last week’s city budget meeting, Goodman had difficulty presenting his budget to council and articulating what he was asking for. Goodman forgot to add last year’s budget figure ($492,000) with the increase he wants for 2012 ($292,625), leaving council confused as to what total figure Goodman wanted from the city.

“This was a foolish mistake and I take full responsibility for it,” Goodman said. “My mistake resulted in a confusing exchange with Mayor Jakeway.”

A day later, Goodman sent a memo to the city asking for $784,625 for Rivercorp’s 2012  budget.

“The city has never had a fully-staffed economic development office and the 2012 Rivercorp budget was designed to fill these gaps,” Goodman says. “When you look at the city’s overall budget it amounts to two per cent of the city’s overall budget for economic development, Tourism Campbell River and the Visitor’s Centre to go out and promote the city and grow it. When you look at it from that perspective I think it’s a reasonable investment.”

Goodman says the two new staff positions are vital in order for the organization to accomplish its goals.

In 2012 Rivercorp plans to investigate “generational economic engines” – industries that could serve the community for generations, more specifically, green energy options such as tidal and biomass (related to forestry) technologies.

Rivercorp also plans to take advantage of the city’s new Agricultural Plan.

“There are many things in the Agricultural Plan we can look at beyond the food sector,” Goodman says. He said blueberries, for example, could be grown for the fruit itself or for the skin, which contains ingredients such as anti-oxidants that could be extracted and sold to health stores. The blueberry could even be valuable to a cosmetic company for its colouring.

Rivercorp also plans to work with GeoScience BC to undertake an aerial survey of the North Island to attract mining investment.

Goodman also says Rivercorp will complete the Downtown Revitalization Plan, which Rivercorp failed to produce under the previous CEO and as consequence, had to give back $43,000 to the city. The plan is aimed at making downtown more attractive and would set a vision to determine what type of business ventures to pursue.

Rivercorp, in partnership with Tourism Campbell River, also plans to start a regional asset inventory which will lay out how many hotels, bed and breakfasts, whale watching operations, etc. are in the Campbell River region. Rivercorp is also considering incorporating a hotel room tax, which Goodman says could be a very effective way of generating additional revenue to put towards tourism.

“In 20 years, Campbell River is going to look completely different,” Goodman says. “The economy will be booming.”

 

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