2023 BC Economic Development Award Winner
The City of Penticton seeks to attract more skilled and remote workers to the community, who fuel the local economy, add vibrancy and offer unique sets of skills. The Economic Development department kicked off the year with a "Welcome Home" campaign to provide a warm welcome to all newcomers. The idea was to connect new residents with resources to help them get settled or to open a business, while gathering statistics to better understand who the new arrivals are - and where they have come from.
Much like a "welcome wagon" concept, residents were presented with a free pack of information and materials from the City, Visit Penticton and the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, as well as free passes to the Community Centre plus some other perks.
The Economic Development team produced a glossy magazine guide titled Penticton: Your Guide to Living Like a Local, which was distributed to every local realty office and to other locations that are a first point of call for newcomers. The team also created and printed a guide titled Your Guide to Business, providing guidance on setting up a new local business.
In order to attract skilled labour, a series of videos was created highlighting key employment sectors, which were marketed via a targeted social media campaign, supported by webpages added to StartHerePenticton.com and sponsored content with Vancouver-based blogs showcasing the benefits to living and working in Penticton (one of which was read 20,717 times).
Immediate response to the "Welcome Home" packs was overwhelmingly positive, gaining substantial earned media and being widely shared over social media. In fact, the first 50 packs were picked up so quickly, the Economic Development team had to prepare another 80 in short order.
By July 7, 2022, a total of 128 respondents filled out a form to request a pack, representing 301 residents. The data collected through the form revealed that efforts to attract skilled workers were working, with the 31-44-year-old age group being the largest group of arrivals between April and July 2022. Of those, the greatest majority relocated from Vancouver/Lower Mainland for a job (31%), with remote working showing strong growth, at 14%.
In the past year, the number of business licenses within Penticton increased 6% over the previous year, compared to a 5% increase in the previous year.
The six sector videos were played 327,693 times over LinkedIn and Facebook alone. During this time, the City's LinkedIn feed jumped substantially, gaining 250% more followers and showing a 34,000% increase in post impressions over the previous month.
The "Welcome Home" initiative would work best among smaller communities that are striving to attract and retain skilled and remote workers. While it could be adapted for larger cities, creating the welcome packs would be time-consuming, so we would recommend offering information and e-passes over email instead of the paper bag "packs".
As for other aspects of the campaign, the sector videos were extremely well-received and were an opportunity to showcase jobs that may not previously have been considered. View them at penticton.ca/workhere.
- The online form used to sign up for the welcome packs was beneficial in that it collected valuable information about the new residents and helped us track their arrivals over 6 months.
- Stuffing 120 Welcome Home packs takes a lot of time. Be sure to recruit a couple people to help out and set a clear cut-off date to the public for when the packs run out.
- The sector videos were appreciated by local businesses and will be reused for future campaigns. These were promoted through a digital advertising campaign targeting key audiences largely throughout B.C. and Alberta.
- Sharing the videos over the "Start Here Penticton" social media channels helped to promote and raise awareness of this brand, dedicated to the cause of attracting skilled and remote workers.