Submitted by CVEDS as part of the September Sustainability Section on “Economic Development”.

This is a five year plan, and was prepared in alignment and consideration of the regional level plans, as well as the municipalities OCPs.

Programs that have particularly strong ties to the Suitability Plan are as follows:

Food Security Enhancement Program and Agrifood Investment and Land Utilization Program

For more than 10 years the Comox Valley’s regional governments have prioritized food and beverage processing as the region’s top economic growth priority as captured in the Comox Valley Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan and annual Comox Valley Economic Development Society Work Plans; a targeted focus to see existing producers continued business expansion and utilizing enhanced practices, while supporting the attraction of new and innovative agriinvestment entrepreneurs. Many of these have been done in partnership with the Comox Valley Farmers Institute, Comox Valley Farmers Market, Ministry of Ag, progressive producers and others. This includes:

· Developed extensive research, resources, stats, Producer Tool Kits and materials to support existing producers looking to expand & improve their business operations.

· Hosted Export Development Workshops for producers wishing to start or expand their exporting business

· Hosted ag and culinary tourism media fams to raise awareness of aginvestment, farm gate sales, and culinary and ag tourism opportunities

· Supported the hosting of numerous Small Scale Food Processors sessions and workshops to help with the business development, operations planning, financial planning and innovative practices

· Contracted an Agricultural Development Officer to support current producers with businesses expansion, farm planning

· Developed culinary events that celebrate and drive attention to farm to fork experiences and product, and to support branding the region for its culinary and ag tourism product and driving increased economic activity from the sectors (i.e. Comox Valley Farm Cycle Tour, BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival)

· Develop the CV Growers Guide, which I believe is in its 9th edition this year, in partnership with CV Farmers Market, CV Farmers Institute, and Ministry of Ag to drive increased consumer awareness of the farm gate operations, create more demand for locally produced food and beverage products, and thereby drive increase economic activity to the producers.

· Supported the establishment of the Islands Agriculture Show, and securing hosting it in the region for 2015, which included a pre show session on Good Agricultural Practices we hosted with the Province sessions, and while the show had significant sessions improving farming practices and innovations.

· Recent update of its website, in partnership with the Comox Valley Farmers Institute, producing new videos that showcase the regions producers and progressive agrifood practices to raise the awareness about the sector, and expanding ag resources section of the website to relaunch the regions efforts around agriinvestment attraction and awareness of the importance of the ag sector here.

· Distribute ongoing Agrifood Comox Valley e-blasts to the industry businesses and producers to raise awareness of agrifood support programs, professional and industry development workshops, statistics and research relevant to enhancing the agrifood sector and practices.

Sustainability Related Business Opportunities Program

Emerging Technologies Panel Discussion- Hosted in Jan. 2015 at North Island College (which was moderated by the Honourable Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education with over 80 guests in attendance, and speakers from different technology lead sectors to discuss innovations in various new technologies including Bio Energy and green tech.

Within the 5 year Comox Valley Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan, the desire to develop an industrial lands strategy was identified (also known as an Employment Lands Strategy), and the 2014 Comox Valley Economic Development Work Plan included holding a workshop for local governments to explore and understand this topic further. An introductory information session for elected officials and senior staff was held last year to encourage discussion and understanding on industrial land strategic planning and analysis, as it relates to their own focus on future development of lands identified within their official community plans. An Employment Land Strategy will be initiated this year.

Business Visitation and Entrepreneurship Program – Business Counts

CVEDS works with existing businesses to support various facets of business development including procurement, supply chain management, human resource management, business start-up, and other issues. This is done via numerous strategies including business site visits, provision of online resources, Business Counts E-newsletters, and a series of Business Counts Workshops that bring together speakers and experts to discuss various topics within numerous sectors and businesses. Some of these have included:

Small Scale Food Processors Workshop Series

Organics Week Speakers

Good Agricultural Practices Workshop

Islands Agriculture Show and Industry Educational Sessions

BC Seafood Expo and Workshop Series (aquaculture industry development)

Pacific Toast (beverage producer industry development)

Comox BIA Professional Development Session

There are also an extensive series of Tech and Innovation workshops as part of the MOU between CVEDS and Innovation Island Technology Association; first session hosted in May, followed by a comprehensive fall workshop program to support expansion of tech sector.

We are currently undertaking an update to the Invest and Business websites to enhance access to resources on various business support programs, statics and research including workforce. We are also surveying businesses annually to understand challenges and opportunities within regional businesses which help direct the information & resources we provide, Business Counts Workshop topics and programs the office undertakes.