Midway mill logs top billing

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
May 22nd, 2012

The Boundary Sawmill start-up took top marks last week as community project of the year at the B.C. Economic Summit.

The Economic Development Association of BC (EDABC) and BC Hydro announced the winners of the 2012 BC Economic Development Awards at the banquet held Tuesday, May 15, in Richmond, B.C. Mayor Randy Kappes was on hand to receive the award.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Kappes. “We hoped we would win but quite honestly being a smaller community and not in an area that gets a lot of recognition I didn’t know what kind of chances we would have. I was very surprised when they called our name out.”

The award, sponsored by BC Hydro, was judged by a panel of experts from across the province to keep the process unbiased. The application for the prize was prepared on behalf of the company by the Boundary Economic Development Committee and read as follows:

“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.

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 employs over 50 people and makes up 40 percent of the local tax base. Less than five years after the initial closure, 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.”

“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.”

Kappes hopes to continue to draw attention to the potential for new industry to develop in Midway.

“There’s that much more recognition for the work that’s been done by the group and hopefully we can build on the momentum and draw some attention to other possibilities throughout the Boundary to carry on that process,” Kappes added.

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. Combined, communities in BC invest $65 Million in retaining and expanding local economies and in promoting tourism.”

Other winners at the awards night were: EDABC President’s Award: EDABC Burns Lake Economic Recovery Team; Economic Development Leader of the Year: Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission; Marketing: District of Maple Ridge: Town Centre Investment Incentive Program.

EDABC is the primary provincial association of economic development practitioners 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.