Okanagan Partnership – Final Report
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 valueadded
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.