PORT ALBERNI – I was at a marina, in a rush loading a boat before heading off to my float home when a boy came along and asked if I would help him build a small raft. When I hesitated, he looked at me and said “if we cooperate and collaborate it will get done faster and better”.
I burst out laughing at these wise words from one so young and asked how old he was. When he said 5, I decided to agree to his request. As we worked on the raft I learned that his much older brother had taught him those words and concepts. What a great gift that was.
Years later, I was introduced to a study that had concluded the most successful regions in the US had two things in common: 1, they had a population of about 1 million people each; 2, they collaborated to resolve issues and address opportunities.
Although Vancouver Island is not yet 1 million people strong, the instances of cooperation and collaboration among our communities are increasing and we are getting things done ‘faster and better’. Organizations such as the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA), the Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association (VICEDA), the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP), and the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC) are working with their respective members to ‘seize the day’.
Trail collectives, arts societies, food groups, health organizations, the Tour de Rock, a seaweed association, our business magazines and many more in every economic, social and environmental sector are contributing to our growth and evolution. Within VICEDA, the cooperation this year has included the continuation of a tech attraction initiative https://TechIsland.io with eight communities north of the Malahat participating, and a Circular Economy pilot project led by the Synergy Foundation, involving seven communities and 12 businesses.
This year VIEA has doubled down on the highly successful ‘Island Good’ campaign, delivered their ‘must attend’ 16th annual ‘State of the Island’ Economic Summit, produced their 8th annual State of the Island Economic Report sponsored by MNP, continued their Foreign Trade Zone VI initiative and more. During his ‘retirement speech’ at the October Summit, outgoing President George Hanson spoke eloquently and passionately about the primary ingredient for success…building relationships… connecting with one another to address challenges and leverage opportunities, …to cooperate and collaborate.
Again, wise words and a great gift. Happy New Year!
Pat Deakin is the Economic Development Manager for the City of Port Alberni and currently the President of the BCEDA. He can be reached at 250-720-2527 or Patrick_deakin@portalberni.ca