RICHMOND, BRITISH COLUMBIA - The Economic Development Association of BC (EDABC) and BC Hydro announced the winners of the 2012 BC Economic Development Awards at the BC Economic Summit Awards Banquet held Tuesday, May 15, in Richmond, BC. EDABC is the primary provincial association of economic development practitioners and is dedicated to providing services that support the activities, profile and development of its members and their economic development goals. EDABC also plays a major role in marketing British Columbia's competitive advantages for new investment and annually publishes the Invest in British Columbia magazine.

"BC Hydro is committed to fostering economic growth across the province, and so we are particularly proud to recognize these community leaders who inspire with the determination and innovation they demonstrate as they build strong local economies," said Chris Heminsley, BC Hydro, Director of Economic Development. "BC Hydro is also pleased to be a partner with EDABC in celebrating the nominees, who have all made unique efforts within their communities while emphasizing the value of forming strong partnerships towards economic development."

"While effective economic development is a shared function of all levels of government, it is most effectively implemented at the local level," said EDABC President Geoff Millar. He added, "Communities across the province continue to make significant investments in the development of their economies and are increasingly aware that economic development programs are one of the main engines of economic growth and diversification."

This marks the 22nd year that EDABC has presented these awards. The awards are presented to association members working on community-based economic development projects in BC and are an excellent way to recognize individuals and groups that produce outstanding work in economic development that has helped to make a difference in supporting and expanding local economies.

"It continues to amaze me the incredible efforts put forward by communities and economic development professionals to ensure strong local economies. This awards program continues to generate keen interest amongst economic developers across the province and this year set a record for the number of entries received," said Dale Wheeldon, Chief Executive Officer, EDABC. "Clearly communities find these awards as a legitimate recognition of their work. The various projects that have made a difference throughout BC is a clear indication that Economic Development offices impact every aspect of the local economy. Combined, communities in BC invest $65 Million in retaining and expanding local economies and in promoting tourism."

The 2012 Economic Development Award Winners are:

1. EDABC Presidents Award: EDABC Burns Lake Economic Recovery Team

Annually, the President of EDABC, presents an award to individual who has made a significant contribution to EDABC and Economic Development throughout British Columbia. This year, in a slight change of direction, the President of EDABC has awarded the President's Award to the EDABC Burns Lake Economic Recovery Team. This team of volunteers dedicated time and effort to converge on the community of Burns Lake following the devastating fire that destroyed Babine Forest Products, taking two lives and injuring numerous others. With the support of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, the team members met with community leaders, businesses, industry, First Nations and hosted a town hall meeting. From the information gathered, a detailed report was developed containing recommendations designed to help deal with the current situation and to put the community in the direction of economic recovery. The team members were from a broad level of economic development experience and regions of the province. Members of the team included, Dale Wheeldon (CEO EDABC), Ashleigh Brewer (EDABC), David Munro (City of Coquitlam), Scott Randolph (Powell River Regional Economic Development Society), Ingrid Jarrett (Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association), Sue Kenney (Community Futures, Peace Liard), Sandra Lemmon (North Peace Economic Development), Lana Fitt (Salmon Arm Economic Development), and Corrine Swenson (Regional District Bulkley-Nechako).

2. Economic Development Leader of the Year: Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission

This award recognizes an individual or team achievement in the field of economic development. The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is an agency of the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO). The COEDC is funded by and accountable to the elected board of the RDCO. The COEDC is a dedicated resource that responds to business-related inquiries and undertakes business development initiatives. The purpose of the COEDC is to facilitate a healthy, dynamic, and sustainable community economy within the Regional District of Central Okanagan, by supporting existing businesses and encouraging appropriate new business investment.

Together the team of staff and contract employees have developed significant programs all designed to help increase the profile of the region and its businesses. This profile has helped to create a diverse economy and one that is remaining vibrant even in the current global economic downturn. Projects like metabridge provide benefits not only to the RDCO but to technology companies throughout British Columbia. They have taken leadership in developing regional programs with provincial benefits including, business enhancement, the Okanagan Young Professional Collective and metabridge.

3. Marketing: District of Maple Ridge: Town Centre Investment Incentive Program

In January 2011, Maple Ridge launched a comprehensive three-year investment incentive program designed to accelerate private residential and commercial investment to meet forecast demand. The program - "Right Time. Right Place," included a print ad, brochure, business card and website information. In the first year, the program attracted $33 million of construction for projects that are underway and in excess of $80 million in projects that are in the development process. The 31 projects that are underway will result in an estimated 1200 new residential units and over 27,000 square metres of commercial space.

4. Community Project: Community Futures Boundary - Boundary Sawmill

When lumber giant Pope & Talbot went bankrupt in 2007 and closed a number of their sawmills, the southern interior of British Columbia was devastated. Among the worst hit was the Village of Midway, located kilometers 70 east of Osoyoos on Highway 3.

The town refused to see this mill closed forever and worked together with local residents, businesses and Heritage Credit Union to raise the money needed to open the facility. Today the mill employees over 50 people and makes up 40% of the local tax base. Less than 5 years after the initial closer, the mill is back up and running as a result of community commitment; what has happened in Midway models future possibilities for similar communities challenged by changing economic pressures.

About EDABC

The Economic Development Association of British Columbia (EDABC) is the leading professional association of economic development practitioners in the province of BC. EDABC currently has over 260 members from communities throughout the province. EDABC provides services that helps member communities grow and expand new and existing businesses, attract new business investments, and work towards strategic infrastructure investment, land use planning, and community enhancement.

EDABC services include an annual conference and networking event, educational and professional development opportunities, public relations, advisory services and resources and partnering with communities and the Province of BC to market British Columbia for business investment.

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