South Island Prosperity Project unveils economic recovery plan

More financial support, enhanced buy-local programs and investing in the workforce are among the early recommendations from the South Island Prosperity Partnership’s Rising Economic Taskforce.

The taskforce, a group of more than 120 leaders from the business, non-profit and government world organized in mid-April in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to release 40 recommendations today for regional economic recovery.

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“A number of themes have emerged across the 10 committees, including immediate relief for small- and medium-sized businesses, investments in rapid skilling and workforce development as it undergoes major upheaval, and preserving the vibrancy and safety of our urban environment during these unprecedented times,” said SIPP chief executive Emilie de Rosenroll. “The committees’ recommendations address a range of challenges faced by multiple sectors in our region and highlight opportunities for a collaborative and inclusive recovery.”

The reports come from committees focused on all aspects of the Island economy, from agriculture and technology to real estate and tourism. Their recommendations, released this week, are just a taste of what’s to come, as the taskforce plans to unveil an economic recovery strategy in mid November.

The recommendations included in today’s committee reports suggest business will need expanded access to financial support such as wage subsidies and investment capital; that there will need to be investment in upgrading the skills and credentials of the workforce; that there is room to expand programs like Buy B.C. and Shop Local; that any recovery effort includes Indigenous workers and businesses, women, newcomers and visible minorities; and that all sectors stand to win if they co-ordinate their response.

“This challenge necessitates unprecedented collaboration. When we work together, our region rebounds faster, dreams bigger and achieves more,” said de Rosenroll. “Collaboration, commitment and energy are critical now to help our region recover from this recession and develop the resiliency to withstand future economic shocks.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she’s been thrilled by seeing the region come together to plan for the future.

“Turning the ideas in the committee reports ​into action will take a sustained collective effort — and I know as a region that we’re up for it,” she said.

Crag Norris, chair of the SIPP, said the recommendations coming out of the committees work over the past four months are inclusive, innovative and can be put into action over the next year and a half. Having released the reports and their early recommendations, the taskforce will prioritize the key themes to develop a regional economic recovery strategy.

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