The Ladysmith Chamber is thrilled to announce that our application to the ICET Rural Business and Community Recovery Program has been successful. The Chamber will receive $50,000 to hire an Economic Recovery Strategist who will coordinate a year-long program with three primary purposes: (1) to conduct a Business Retention and Expansion Program to identify short and long term needs of the business community, (2) to provide Individual Business Support Services to help those businesses most in need stabilize and recover from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, and (3) to lead a broad-based Community Economic Development Response designed to maximize economic recovery through a comprehensive shop local and destination marketing campaign.
The Ladysmith Chamber (and the local business community) are extremely grateful to the Island Coastal Economic Trust for this latest round of support. It builds on previous contributions to our community that have allowed us to develop a comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (adopted in 2018) and to create new Tourism and Economic Development Tools including new Websites and an App (launched in 2020). This previous support has helped our community be relatively resilient in the face of the economic storm caused by Covid-19 and that support, along with this new funding, will allow us to bounce back quickly once the pandemic begins to recede in the rear-view mirror. We are tremendously excited to roll up our sleeves and get to work on this exciting endeavour that will have significant short and long term benefits for our community.
The purpose of this project is to hire an Economic Recovery Strategist to drive a speedy and robust economic recovery through 3 primary activities:
- Conduct a Virtual Business Walk – working with resources provided by the BC Economic Development Association we will conduct a Business Walk to assess individual and collective business needs and develop appropriate programs and services to support immediate stabilization and recovery as well as to encourage long term growth and economic resiliency. Please note that this Business Walk will build on data that was collected during a Business Walk in 2016.
- Individual Business Support Services – Using the data collected from the Business Walk we will formulate responses at an individual business level on a 1-to-1 basis providing personalized coaching and/or referral to national/provincial programs and regional recovery support services such as those provided by Community Futures and Tourism Vancouver Island.
- Municipal Economic Development Response – Building on the data from the Business Walk and in lock-step with Ladysmith’s Economic Development Strategy we will design and implement a comprehensive shop local and destination marketing campaign that will include:
- A local branding activity to identify, celebrate and promote our community assets. Residents will be encouraged to share things like their favorite places to eat/shop and the local activities and amenities they enjoy. These stories and imagery will be leveraged to encourage residents, businesses, and organizations to support and promote local economic and social enterprises thereby strengthening community resilience and capacity. At the same time, the program will spotlight and drive traffic to the local businesses, organizations, amenities, and ambience that make the community special to live in and visit.
- As social and travel restrictions are eased, economic recovery will be further enhanced by expanding the messaging to focus on facilitating increased visitation, spending and investment through a destination marketing and residential/business attraction strategy. Program will leverage pre-existing investment assets including the new Tourism Ladysmith and Invest Ladysmith websites, Walking Tour and Investment App and associated social media platforms. The target market will be residents and people visiting Vancouver Island, particularly those in the mid-Vancouver Island region.
- The program will – as much as possible – align, collaborate, and synergize strategies with those of regional tourism and economic development entities including but not limited to Tourism Cowichan, Economic Development Cowichan, Coast Salish Development Corporation, Tourism Nanaimo, Tourism Vancouver Island.