Group confident of seamless change

Organizers behind the Penticton Business Development Group are beginning the process of establishing themselves in the community

With a to-do list in hand, organizers behind the Penticton Business Development Group are beginning the process of establishing themselves in the community in preparation to deliver tourism, economic development and visitors information services in the city.

Pledging openness and transparency, group signatory Andy Oakes said members are currently working on two main tasks: registering the entity legally as a not-for-profit and beginning the search for board members.

“We wanted to the get the message out to the public and stakeholders, ‘Here’s our governance model, here’s how this thing is going to operate and how it’s going to be positive for the community moving forward,’” Oakes said.

Last Friday, the group was awarded the contract to provide tourism, economic development and visitor information services on behalf of the City of Penticton out of the municipally owned building at 553 Railway St.

Oakes said the non-profit registration will be in place by Jan. 1, which is when the Penticton Business Development Group’s contract with the city begins. Concurrently, the group is working to form a board of directors, and is turning to the community for help.

“We are obviously going to be recruiting some board members, and recruiting people to at least putting their names forward for consideration,” Oakes said, adding the group welcomes others to step forward, as they are having “an open call to any people in the community whether they’ve been in this part of the community before or not, to have their names submitted for consideration as well.”

Once a roster of seven names is decided upon, he said the group will forward the board member list to council for final approval and endorsement.

“We will consult with the city about the board members to ensure that they feel there’s an equal balance and be productive in those three distinct areas. We will be running the board composition through the city,” he said, adding the process should take two to three weeks to complete.

That board will be responsible for coming up with the job description of the yet-to-be-hired chief executive officer, monitoring the success of outcomes and reporting back on results to the city.

“This board is going to be run as a professional board. This board, their role is not meant to be involved in the day-to-day business of any of these functions,” Oakes said. “This board becomes more of a governance or focus board rather than say a working board tied into one of those three areas.”

Once the board is finalized, he said, those individuals will begin the search for a CEO, anticipating screening to be conducted in December. That individual’s first day is anticipated to be immediately in the new year.

Oakes said there will be performance reviews of the CEO and the managers in all three areas of the contract, and measures will be communicated to the city.

While some in the community have expressed “fear or negativity” about the future of existing staff at the office, Oakes tried to alleviate concerns.

“There’s going to be a professional co-operative approach from our group to makes sure that the transition from the existing group to our group is going to be done in a manner in which people can conduct themselves in a business and professional manner, and co-operate for the best interests of the city,” he said, acknowledging they will be on a four-month probation period.

“I think it comes down to the approach of the people coming in. The people who do a good job and are doing their jobs to the best of their abilities don’t typically have to worry about job loss in any company.”

He also felt startup costs would be negligible.

“The group is fortunate in that there’s not going to be any physical changes. It’s part of looking at what the existing system has. There might be some nominal things, but I don’t see it being a major startup from scratch,” he said.