New economic development officer takes hold in Penticton

Penticton's new economic development officer looks to community

Colleen Pennington

Colleen Pennington

When Colleen Pennington arrived in Penticton to take up her new position as economic development officer, she was coming home, in a way.

Pennington and her husband Marcel purchased a home in Kaleden in 2008 — at the height of the price boom, she jokes — and have been looking for the situation to be right to move here ever since. In the meantime, they have been visiting regularly.

“We didn’t buy it as a vacation property, per se, because we always had the intention of coming here,” said Pennington, adding that her husband Marcel is a 1973 Penticton Secondary graduate.

“I wanted to come out here, this is the size of community I wanted to be in. We have friends here and his (her husband Marcel’s) family has been here for 40 years,” she continued. “We just needed the right things to come about. In the meantime, we’ve been coming here and enjoying the property, having lots of friends up.”

Connections figure large in Pennington’s outlook on her new job as economic development officer. Just two weeks into the job, she said she has been spending a lot of time talking to people as she prepares to develop a strategy for Penticton.

“I’ve been trying to learn about the community in a number of ways. I have boxes of files, which is kind of interesting, it gives you a historical perspective on the issues; some of them have been pervasive for years,” she said. “The second thing I have been doing is chatting with some of the key business leaders and trying to get a sense of what their perspective on business in the community is like and opportunities. Both people that are starting their businesses and those that are a bit more entrenched.”

What she has learned so far, said Pennington, is that Penticton is home to a varied economy, with everything from businesses operating in the global market, run by experienced entrepreneurs with long-term roots in the community, to people that have arrived recently to set up a new business.

“We’ve got a number of new people here, people that have come in the last couple of years and are attracted by the lifestyle of the community, but also the feel, the idea that it has that small charm, it’s not strip mall central. It’s not the same as every other community, but still has an opportunity to earn a good living,” said Pennington. “Those are the kind of people that are exciting to be around because they see the potential and they’re new, they’re here to establish their lives and their families.”

Some of the issues include developing a varied job market, both in terms of jobs for younger workers and a range of salary levels, building on the successes of events like the farmers’ market and the business friendliness of the city’s website.

“I think if you’re looking at our website, trying to find core information about our community, it isn’t as easy to find as I would like to see. We’ve looked at a number of these issues before, I can see from the records,” said Pennington. “And we have some talent gaps. We have employers that are trying to hire people in certain areas and they can’t get them.”

Pennington said her first weeks have been interesting as she tries to get a sense of what brings business people to Penticton, looking for the factors that make the community unique and different, opportunities and strengths. The end result of her information gathering, she said, will be a new economic development strategy.

“I do want to look at some of the key people and things that are happening in the industrial sector, in the tourism sector, things that are happening in our retail areas, tech sector, agricultural, wine, all of those broadly defined areas of opportunity,” said Pennington. “Pull that into a strategic plan, present it to the people that I work for, make sure it is consistent with where they want to go and frankly, get on with getting it done.”

But it’s too early, she continued, to know when that strategy will be ready.

“I don’t think I am even close to getting my arms around what the community is,” she said. “Not forever, because we don’t have forever, we need to get on with this. I am the kind of person that likes to get moving forward. For me, it is a priority to get something in place and hopefully find some short-term wins along with some medium and long-term items that build a really solid foundation.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This now empty restaurant beside the Summerland Waterfront Resort will be turned back to its former glory of Shaughnessy’s Cove. Opening in May. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Summerland waterfront is getting a new restaurant

The now closed Local will be turned back into its former glory of the Shaughnessy’s Cove

Bob MacMillan raises a toast to Robbie Burns at the celebration for the 261st birthday of the Scottish Bard on Saturday, Jan. 18. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Explore Scottish culture with new Penticton television series

The Penticton Scottish Festival’s Exploring Scottish Culture in the Okanagan series debuts Jan. 18

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Gorgeous fiery sunset taken from a parking lot on Martin St. on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 4:45 p.m. (Brennan Phillips)
January is producing some gorgeous sunsets

Sunsets and warm weather for the start of 2021

Carol Loiselle filed a discrimination and harassment complaint with the B.C. Humans Right Tribunal in 2018 after working at Windward Software Systems, Inc. in Penticton for eight years. (Google maps photo)
Penticton woman wins part of her B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case

Carol Loiselle alleges she faced years of discrimination, harassment at Windward Software Systems

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

  RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
‘Dangerous situation’ inside busy Kelowna store prompts police presence

27-year-old man apprehended after threatening to harm himself inside store

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

City of Salmon Arm Coun. Chad Eliason goes public with the information he went to Mexico over Christmas. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm councillor travels to Mexico over Christmas holiday

Politician says he regrets decision and didn’t consider the ramifications

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna Mountie transferred, fined after pointing gun at another officer

Const. Kristine Roesler argued she handled the gun safely and did it in the spirit of ‘dark humour’

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Salmon Arm Recreation notified the public of a COVID-19 exposure at the Salmon Arm pool on Jan. 14. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Salmon Arm pool

Salmon Arm Recreation became aware of the virus exposure on Jan. 13.

Most Read