Kimberley City Council has voted to provide a letter of support to the Kootenay Outdoor Recreation Society (KORE) to help with their application to the BC Rural Dividend Fund.
In a letter to Council, Matt Mosteller, President of KORE, explained that the society’s purpose is to use the natural assets of the region to attract gear companies whose products target people who use those assets for recreation.
KORE’s goal is to submit a $125,000 application to the BC Rural Dividend Fund. Their deadline was August 15, 2019.
Mayor Don McCormick, who sits on the board of KORE, explained at a Council meeting on Monday that KORE is trying to attract companies to Kimberley and the surrounding area for product design, testing and/or manufacturing.
He adds that the College of the Rockies (COTR) has been brought into the concept, and will be developing a course on gear manufacturing and product design.
“[COTR] sees an opportunity to produce that curriculum,” said McCormick. “If the grant is received, it will put legs under the initiative for [further] assessments and research.”
One of the mandatory criteria for application eligibility is for KORE to contribute $12,500 in both cash and in-kind contributions towards the application.
Mosteller explained that COTR has agreed to contribute both of the fund criterium towards the application, and they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with KORE.
Mosteller adds that economic diversity is a challenge for communities of less than 10,000 people who are typically reliant on a single industry such as forestry, mining or tourism.
“This is the case for most communities in the Kootenay region,” he wrote. “Replacing a closed sawmill by bringing a new industry to a community is a huge challenge, primarily because finding a replacement that fits the unique character of the community is hit and miss. It tends to be a forced fit.”
McCormick pointed to local companies that have already been a part of this industry for years, such as Berley Skate in Kimberley; a company that manufactures skateboards and longboards. He adds that an engineer for Norco bikes has also been living and working remotely from Kimberley for some time.
Mosteller says that there are four main initiatives that KORE is focusing on as phase one of their application including:
– KORE identity and branding (look, website, social media and basic content creation);
– COTR Outdoor Product Design Program (trained skilled workforce in outdoor product design);
– Outdoor Industry Audit (who and what already exists in the Kootenays within the outdoor industry); and
– KORE trade missions (incoming FAM trips and industry trade sales trips)
He says that the initiative hopes to attract the outdoor industry to start up or relocate to Kimberley and the Kootenay region.
“KORE will act as an advocate for the outdoor industry in the region as well as foster conservation and stewardship of wild lands, education and outdoor workforce development and contribution to active lifestyles and health and wellness.”