Okanagan Partnership Society (2003-2007)
The Okanagan Partnership is a community-led, non-profit society dedicated to the vision of a prosperous and sustainable Okanagan region that provides a high quality of life for all inhabitants. As a neutral convener of the marketplace, the Okanagan Partnership fosters a culture of regional collaboration and develops action-based strategies that enhance the Okanagan region’s competitive advantage globally. This page provides for some historic documents and associated links.
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Okanagan Competitiveness Strategy - Executive Summary
The Okanagan Sustainable Prosperity Strategy is a bottom-up, collaborative strategy to ensuring that the Okanagan region—from Similikameen to Enderby in the north to Osoyoos in the south— remains economically vital while preserving a high quality of life that has inspired many to move to the region and continues to retain those who live here. This broad-based regional initiative is the first of its kind in the Okanagan. Until now, communities have largely looked within their own boundaries for solutions to economic and quality of life challenges they face.
Choosing a Future: There are forces at work that have made this the right time for new thinking and action on shaping our region’s next steps in development. The Okanagan region stands at the proverbial fork in the road where difficult choices must be made. Very rarely does a community have the opportunity to choose its future. More often changes take place incrementally, invisibly, and one morning residents wake up and realize that the qualities they knew and loved are no longer there. The Okanagan Partnership for Sustainable Prosperity is about taking responsibility for protecting what is important today while setting the stage for enabling what is desired for tomorrow.
New Rules for Regional Performance: The genesis of this strategy comes from a recognition among regional leaders that the Okanagan’s position within the global economy is not an assured one and that the region must compete for its living alongside of other regions. New rules or principles are needed to guide thinking in this broader context. These rules have been put to work effectively to build our strategy. These rules include:
- Thinking Regionally: The broader geographic area within which an individual can commute on a daily basis is where our attention needs to focus in today’s world. In fact, businesses no longer care about which jurisdiction they are in. They care about the region where they locate and what advantages they can draw from its key inputs—from skills to innovation to transportation. Moreover, everything we do within our community has an impact on the broader region in which we live. Challenges such as air and water quality and congestion reach across municipal boundaries and require regional solutions. The region is where our future takes shape.
- Focus on Clusters: A region’s performance is driven by its “portfolio” of industrial clusters. Clusters are groups of related businesses who export products and services from the region (bringing in new dollars), their suppliers as well as the public and private providers of economic inputs, such as trained workers, innovation, financing, transportation as well as governance. Clusters grow and change over time. Competitive clusters generate high value-added jobs whose multipliers (salaries and expenditures within the region) create other jobs. A healthy economy has a diverse portfolio of competitive and newly emerging clusters. Cluster needs and actions exert an important impact on the surrounding region’s performance—prosperity, disparity and sustainability.
- Build Regional Advantages: Clusters only take shape and grow in regions where they can find advantages for their operations—the more responsive to their needs, the better. This is why technology-driven clusters tend to be locate close to sources of skilled workers and innovation—as well as close to each other—so they can take advantage of similar workforce and infrastructure. A region that is able to create advantages in workforce preparation, in generating innovation, in supplying finance, transportation, energy and water, efficient regulation and administration and provide a high quality of life will form, expand and attract more companies around specific clusters. Building and adapting regional advantage for clusters is the core of a sustainable and prosperous region. Executive Summary ICF Consulting 2 The Okanagan Partnership 04-039 June 2004
- Collaborate to Achieve Advantage: High performing regions around the world have achieved their status because their communities, businesses and institutions have built a collaborative culture. A collaborative culture is an environment in which all stakeholders are open to change and are willing to negotiate trade-offs and constructive agreements with one another—they get things done, often in creative ways. A collaborative regional culture enables businesses, governments and organizations to work together, to commit to new ways of doing business and to make investments that will have a mutually beneficial pay off. Learning and applying collaborative practices is the key to building the advantages that will help form and grow clusters and achieve a sustainable and prosperous economy.
- A Partnership of Many: The Okanagan Sustainable Prosperity Strategy was initiated by regional leaders who founded the Okanagan Partnership in 2003. The initiative itself was made possible by the financial support of the region’s economic development districts, OUC, the Province, Western Diversification, National Research Council and Industry Canada. ICF Consulting has provided the framework, analysis and technical support for the strategy development process.
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