The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC) is a function of the Regional District of Central Okanagan. The region includes the communities of Lake Country, Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna, Peachland, and the East and West Electoral Areas. The mandate of the (COEDC) is to work in partnership with regional stakeholders to facilitate and encourage the development of a healthy and sustainable economy by supporting existing businesses and encouraging new investment within the region.
In 2019, the COEDC launched the Moving Forward to 2025 strategy, identifying four strategic pillars to guide its activities:
- Growing Sustainably
- Competing Globally
- Inviting Top Talent
- Building Business
In 2020, with this strategy in mind and a common interest of increasing awareness of the region's economic and tourism opportunities, the COEDC partnered with regional stakeholders, Accelerate Okanagan (the region's tech accelerator) and Tourism Kelowna (destination marketing organization). Recognizing a shared objective to market the region as a thriving hub for innovative growth and so, the OKGo marketing campaign was born. Leaning into the region's strengths, this campaign shares inspiring stories of regional innovation and entrepreneurship in the industries of Aerospace, Manufacturing, Digital Tech, Cannabis, Viticulture, and Agriculture.
The objective of the OKGo campaign is to attract business events, talent, entrepreneurs and business investment to the Central Okanagan on behalf of the regional stakeholders. The OKGo campaign has leveraged the resources of all three partners, as well as matched funding received from Global Affairs Canada and the international networks of Destination Canada, to create a marketing impact beyond what each organization would be able to achieve individually.
Since its inception in 2020, the OKGo Marketing Campaign has grown to include the following assets:
- OKGo Website 2021
- OKGo Magazine Vol 1
- OKGo Magazine Vol 2
- 2021 Digital Marketing Campaign: LinkedIn, YouTube, & Facebook
Digital Assets - Videos, Photos, and Digital Ads
- Industry Profiles in: Aerospace, Manufacturing, Digital Tech, Cannabis, Agriculture, Viticulture
All of these assets provide the COEDC, Tourism Kelowna and Accelerate Okanagan, as well as the broader community, with the tools to tell a cohesive regional story that showcases our regional expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship.
The OKGo marketing campaign tells the story of the Central Okanagan through local entrepreneurs, sparks connection, and communicates our regional value proposition. While each partner organization has a unique mandate and individual goals, this collaborative project provides the region with multiple assets that tell a cohesive story which can be shared through each of the partners' individual networks, furthering the impact of the collective message, and showcasing local business innovation across industries.
The campaign's six industry sectors were identified as fundamental to the Central Okanagan economy, poised for significant growth while also contributing to the advancement of other sectors. They do so by growing innovation, encouraging new investment, enhancing supply chains, increasing household incomes and making the region attractive to people, who in turn visit or relocate to the Central Okanagan and drive economic growth by supporting local businesses and buying or renting homes, offices and industrial space.
The industry sectors featured in the campaign are also in line with Federal and Provincial target sectors (i.e., Destination Canada's Economic Sector Strategy, Global Affairs Canada's Priority Sectors and Trade and Invest BC's Key Industry Sectors) which allows the region to leverage national programs, like CanExport Community Investments, that provide matching funding for projects such as this one and provincial initiatives that encourage investment and economic recovery in BC.
The OKGo website was launched in January 2021 and a digital marketing campaign followed in July 2021 utilizing Google ads and LinkedIn to target industry executives in the Pacific Northwest. Most recently (January 2023) we have soft launched a mini-series of video's featuring six industry ambassadors in Aerospace, Manufacturing, Digital Tech, Cannabis, Viticulture, and Agriculture. A targeting marketing campaign for this new series is planned for Q2 of 2023 and will utilize similar methods targeting industry executives in the Pacific Northwest. Metrics for these digital assets are below:
Website & Marketing Campaign Analytics (2021 & 2022 totals):
-Impressions: 1,067,084 ~96% reached senior decision makers
-Page Views: 23,874
-Website Visits: 9,225 organic results
-Video Views: 539K, 81% completion rate
-Magazine Downloads: 470
-Contact Form Submissions: 209
2023 OKGo Mini-Series Soft Launch Results (targeted campaign to follow):
-50th Parallel Estate Winery (Viticulture): 222 Youtube Views
-GreenStep Solutions (Digital Tech): 186 Youtube Views
-KF Aerospace (Aerospace): 457 Youtube Views
-Paynter's Fruit Market (Agriculture): 459 Youtube Views
-Pela (Advanced Manufacturing): 201 Youtube Views
-THC Biomed (Cannabis):165 Youtube Views
In addition to these digital assets, the OKGo team has also begun rolling out in person qualitative initiatives highlighted below:
Magazines printed and circulated to various stakeholders, including but not limited to:
- OKGo Magazine Vol 1 - 750 issues circulated
- OKGo Magazine Vol 2 - 1000 issues circulated
Targeted outreach to individuals and organizations in the US Pacific Northwest and major Canadian cities through the partner organizations' networks. An example is through Trade and Invest BC Representatives, Destination Canada, and Canadian Trade Commissioners in strategic markets, as well as through direct connectivity with industry and accelerator networks.
Economic Sector Strategy Familiarization Tours (FAMS):
- 4 FAM's in total highlighting Agriculture, Aerospace, Digital Tech, Advanced Manufacturing and Viticulture. Stakeholders who attended included local hotel staff, venues, transportation providers, tour operators etc.
- Approximately 20-26 attendees were present for each FAM. These tours provide our regional stakeholders with a better understanding of our region's economic strength, the value of our diverse industries, and the ability to build connections with community industry stakeholders.
- 2023 plan to build on this momentum and open invitations to additional community stakeholders including business support organizations and local government officials across all regional governments, further strengthening our regional value proposition.
2022 Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference
- Sponsored by OKGo, our team attended this conference with over 350 attendees, and shared the opportunities available in agriculture in the Central Okanagan.
2022 Montreal Dinner Event
- With a total of 50 guests (Covid-19 maximum), this intimate dinner was hosted in market with members of Montreal's business community and the Central Okanagan's business community, which included founders, directors, and other senior-level executives. With new direct flights from YLW to YUL, we showcased the Central Okanagan as a region poised for business expansion, an ideal place to host business events and conferences, and a welcoming community open to collaboration and innovation.
- One of the worlds biggest tech conferences, brining together people and companies redefining the global tech industry.
2022 Lyft Expo
- Canada's leading cannabis conference & tradeshow. With attendees including top innovators, creatives, entrepreneurs, researchers, experts, and regulators of the cannabis industry.
BC Cannabis Summit
- Summit featuring industry experts' insights, advice, policy discussions and resolutions, a business trade show, industry networking, and special events.
In Market Client Events:
- In market client events in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Guests from organizations related to agriculture, viticulture, advanced manufacturing, aerospace and digital technology; hosted by Tourism Kelowna demonstrating economic diversity of the Central Okanagan as a place where business conferences and events can leverage local industry assets.
The Kelowna CMA is the fastest growing region in Canada at 14% (census 2016-2021), far outpacing other comparable growing regions. This growth can only be attributed to the synergistic relationship between quality of life, opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation, economic diversity, and access the talent. To continue to meet this growth, the OKGo campaign provides the region with assets to attract new talent, entrepreneurs, business investment and events to the Central Okanagan, ultimately driving economic growth across all industries.
The OKGo campaign can be replicated and is easily transferable to any community. All elements of the campaign - website, magazine, video mini-series, videography, photography, digital advertising - can be adapted to suit each community's needs, style and message.
The ability to highlight each community's key industry sectors, have local entrepreneurs open up and tell their own story in their own words, share the advantages and benefits of growing a business in the community, and highlight the economic factors driving their success, provides a powerful message for any campaign.
The OKGo campaign has been recognized nationally and internationally as a best practice marketing campaign and it has received the following awards:
2022 Marketing Canada Awards by Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC)
o Advertising Campaign: OKGo Campaign
o Single Publication - 5+ pages: OKGo Magazine Vol. 2
o Website: OK-Go.ca
o Cup Contender: OKGo Campaign
2021 International Economic Development Council (IEDC)
o Gold Rank - OKGo Marketing Campaign - Magazine and Newsletter
o Silver Rank - OKGo Marketing Campaign - Special Purpose Website
Due to this recognition (and through word of mouth), we have had a number of communities reach out to request information and learn more about the campaign, with the goal of implementing it in their own communities.
The Central Okanagan region is well known for its collaborative nature among government, industry, post-secondary institutions and business support organizations, which has proven key to the success of the OKGo campaign. By working together on this campaign, all three partner organizations have been able to combine resources and create something very special together that would not have been possible on their own.