Since 2012, Gabriola Island has received economic development services from the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation (NEDC). However, due to unexpected changes NEDC was unable to fulfill its commitment to Gabriola. In response, the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce embraced the challenge as a new opportunity to develop an independent approach to economic development planning and services.
Building on the results of the 2016 Economic Readiness Report supported by ICET, the project created an economic development strategy and action plan for Gabriola Island. The process involved community consultation and formation of a steering committee to identify priorities and key objectives. Specific deliverables included a 3-year strategic plan, operating budget, and a set of performance measures to gauge progress and success.
The project was completed in 2017. Early outcomes included formation of an economic steering committee and hiring of an Economic Development Officer to oversee implementation. Anticipated outcomes include the development of new supports for businesses, entrepreneurs and youth; a buy local campaign; and an offseason tourism initiative that will support growth and retention of local Island businesses and economic self-sustainability.