The Village of Burns Lake (VBL), and the Lakes District are now represented by two economic development bodies; the village’s own economic development officer, Emile Scheffel, and the Lakes Economic Development Association (LEDA).
After more than eight years of activity, LEDA lost its funding from the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) and the VBL. They both terminated their funding arrangement with LEDA early in 2012.
The $60,000 in funding that LEDA lost meant a reduction in services and a further struggle to ensure a stable funding base. Currently, LEDA seeks funding as a registered not-for-profit organization and employs one part-time employee, Cindy Shelford, LEDA economic development officer.
Shelford sees a future for the two bodies to work together as their focus and resource pools are different.
“Generally, as a local government and as a non-profit each [VBL and LEDA] would be eligible for different types of funding and looking at different [funding] pools,” explained Shelford.
Previously, LEDA helped bring much funding into the region through functions like grant-writing services and consulting with stakeholders to bring projects from idea through to completion.
“In the past LEDA’s focus was more broad and assisted on projects throughout the Lakes District and had great successes bringing in millions of dollars for many projects in the community and worked on developing initiatives and reports,” Shelford said.
The Burns Lake Snowmobile Club, the Omineca Ski Club, various VBL projects like the new village entrance welcoming signs and Spirit Square improvements, and many other municipal, regional, and First Nations projects have benefitted from LEDA’s involvement.
Shelford estimates that more than 50 people found local employment with the projects LEDA had been involved in.
Shelford’s focus will now be on marketing the region, leaving local business development projects to the VBL’s economic development function.
Shelford sees the relationship between the two local economic development bodies as complimentary rather than a duplication of efforts.
There will be plenty of work to go around, Shelford said.
“There is so much going on in our region for the next 5 to ten years, there is more than enough work for everyone,” Shelford said. “The more we work together the better.”