Ladysmith, September 20, 2018 - A new economic development strategy for Ladysmith is highlighting how partnership and collaboration will lead to new opportunities for the town and surrounding communities.
The strategy, authored by lead consultant and economist Jamie Van Struth, is the result of a collaboration between the Town of Ladysmith, Stz'uminus First Nation, the Nanaimo Airport, the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, and Community Futures Central Island. Economic Development Cowichan acted as project manager and is actively engaged with other partners in moving the project recommendations forward. The project was supported by partner contributions and a grant from Island Coast Economic Trust.
"We're pleased this vital partnership is resulting in such a strong and focused action plan," says Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone. "Every partner involved made a commitment to working together to bring forward the best and most immediate economic opportunities for our town and our region."
In creating the report, the consultants conducted an extensive analysis of population, employment and labor force trends in the Ladysmith region, in addition to speaking with local and regional business, government and community stakeholders about challenges and opportunities.
"As a result of this approach, we have a strategy that truly reflects the economic, business and community influences that are shaping Ladysmith", says Economic Development Cowichan Manager Amy Melmock. "The study also pointed out that Ladysmith has a great many natural assets and competitive advantages to build upon."
The strategy highlights that while traditional industries like forestry continue to have an impact on Ladysmith, new industries and opportunities are emerging that will increasingly position the town as an attractive place to live, work and invest.
In the short-term, the study recommends acting on various economic strategies that are already in play, including the development of an Arts and Heritage Hub at the Ladysmith Waterfront. The study also calls for the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce to build on its reputation as a local tourism information source by playing a more prominent role in attracting new businesses and residents to the region through online tools like an enhanced Ladysmith website.
The Ladysmith Downtown Business Association will play a central role in championing various strategy recommendations pertaining to ongoing downtown infrastructure development, promotions and the creation of new festivals and events. The report acknowledges the importance of the association and its activities in creating a sense of community in Ladysmith while fostering greater economic diversity.
Medium-term priorities detailed in the strategy include a marina expansion and enhanced aquaculture and seafood processing in cooperation with the Stz'uminus First Nation. The study also acknowledges the important role the Stz'uminus may play in opening up new commercial and industrial land in the Ladysmith region.
Building on the work of Community Futures Central Island and a recent development application process review by the Town of Ladysmith, the strategy recommends that local businesses continue to be supported. The transportation links provided by the Nanaimo Airport and the contributions of industries like forestry and manufacturing are also cited as being essential to the local economy.
All told, the strategy brought forward 17 key recommendations for supporting economic development in Ladysmith. In the months ahead, contributing partners will continue to meet and decide on how these recommendations can be prioritized, activated and funded.
An online copy of the Ladysmith Economic Development Strategy is available here or on the Economic Development Cowichan website at www.ecdevcowichan.com