New board begins to take shape

Penticton Business Development Group set to take over the city’s tourism and economic development contract effective Jan. 1

  • Dec. 20, 2011 1:00 p.m.

The inaugural board of the Penticton Business Development Group is slated to meet this week after its appointments were approved unanimously by council Monday.

A resolution was held to bring the appointments to the public meeting from in-camera, naming the seven individuals to make up the board of the non-profit set to take over the city’s tourism and economic development contract effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Eric Sorensen, former president of SunRype Fruit, has been voted chair of the board of directors. Agriculturalist and B.C. Wine Information Society chair Rod King will serve as vice-chair.

Other directors include JP Kaumeyer, a board member with the Okanagan Hockey School; Robert Hodson from the Sandman; Gordon Ferguson of the Ramada Group; Marko Cucnik from the Lakeside Resort and Casino; and Annette Antoniak, the City of Penticton’s chief administrative officer.

Judy Poole, one of the eight Penticton Business Development Group signatories who submitted the proposal, said the board has not had an official hand-off meeting because the city had to approve the appointments. A briefing is tentatively set for Thursday.

She said the interim board is very pleased with the calibre of individuals selected to serve, particularly Sorensen’s extensive corporate background. “I’m very excited. I think I speak for everybody on the interim board, in what we achieved, the people we got, the level of engagement, it’s very exciting,” she said.

The group decided to heed the advice of the Penticton Hospitality Association, which had indicated it wanted a level of accommodator representation on the board, given it would control the two-per-cent additional hotel room tax (AHRT) that provides marketing for the Penticton tourism industry.

“What the accommodators asked for was three seats on the board. We have done that. I think that’s a good balance,” she said. “What we were trying to achieve was an integrated board that looked at the economic future of Penticton as a whole, as opposed to dividing up tourism and economic development. I think we’ve achieved that.

“The accommodators who are on the board have a global vision as well, and understand that the economic well-being of Penticton benefits everybody, regardless of what the business is that you’re in.”

Poole said a seat has also been reserved on the board for a city staff member, establishing a direct communication link to the city. “It makes a whole bunch of sense from a liaison point of view,” she said.

The next order of business having determined its governance structure, Poole said, is to hire the CEO.

“We have done the legwork for them as far as getting applications in place, getting resumes. We’re delighted by the quality we’ve gotten, but the hiring decision has to be theirs,” she said, adding the group didn’t even want to short-list applicants. “Really, it’s not too onerous. There’s 20 applications, so it’s manageable for them.”

The CEO should be named within a few weeks, she added. The interim board comprised of signatories is expected to resign in 90 days as per the proposal submitted to the city, when the inaugural board will officially take over.

“They are ready to hit the decks running,” she said.