The Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation has received a grant from the B.C. Rural Dividend Fund to launch its Forging Metal Tech Alley marketing initiative.
The LCIC applied for a two-year project under the Business Sector Development Stream of the Rural Dividend Fund and received $500,000 for a project it’s calling “Forging Metal Tech Alley — Innovation in the Metals and Technology.”
Presenting the project to Rossland city council on Monday, April 10, Terry Van Horn, economic development officer for the LCIC, explained that it was the organization’s work over the past five years that allowed them to successfully apply for the funding.
“As a small, rural, economic development regional function, we are seen as leaders in the province, and one of the reasons why we got this funding was because we were regional. Also because we were ready,” she said. “All that work that we’ve been doing in the background for the last five years really has made us prepared to be able to utilize and access that kind of funding.”
Metal Tech Alley is an area on Highway 22A, and the LCIC’s project is “about aligning the metals sectors and the technology sectors.”
The LCIC received $100,000 through the Columbia Basin Trust’s Community Directed Funds and used the funds to hire a consultant and create a marketing strategy around its industrial lands, the result being Metal Tech Alley. The LCIC was able to identify its target audiences and tactics for how to reach them, and also developed a tool box.
“A lot of that is confidential information that the consultant has spent a lot of time creating for us and that’s kind of the difference between having a very strategic and targeted marketing strategy with those tactics and tool box in place, where that makes us different now,” explained Van Horn.
With the branding and a strategy in place, the LCIC then needed funding to move forward with implementing a marketing initiative, which is where the B.C. Rural Dividend Fund grant comes in. The LCIC applied for the grant in partnership with a number of businesses in the Trail area, and now that it’s received the funding, can move forward with marketing to attract new businesses to the region and help them grow.
Partners include I4C and MIDAS (Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies) Fab Lab.
“So you have all of this expertise in our area in the metallurgical. We have all these unbelievable entrepreneurs using technology in so many amazing and innovative ways. You get them down into MIDAS, you get some people starting to think and to brainstorm new ideas, you start prototyping new ideas — MIDAS helps these people get their prototype, helps them get into the market and then they have to go on their way,” Van Horn said, explaining the vision for Metal Tech Alley.
“So what happens is the I4C innovation center comes along and says, ‘Okay you guys, they haven’t quite made enough money to get out on their own, they need some help in the middle here, they still need to kind of expand their market, maybe tweak some of their products” — the I4C is going to help those in their second stage,” she added. “So they all have to be profitable businesses or at least making some kind of money before I4C takes them in.”
Once the business has expanded its market and grown its revenue it will outgrow I4C and hopefully buy land in Metal Tech Alley.
“That circle continues to grow and grow, and all of a sudden we have a beautiful sector-clustered development of metal and technology companies right in Metal Tech Alley.”