Sometimes, in the present economic climate, business people can lose hope. The prophets of doom and gloom become the voices the Sunshine Coast listen to. That’s why it was so refreshing to attend Wednesday’s Innovation Lives Here networking and professional development event.
And we were obviously not the only company that felt that way.
Many times as co-sponsor Brian Smith, the executive director of Community Futures of the Sunshine Coast, remarked, business events are under-attended and under-appreciated. Such was not the case on Oct. 10. The Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club was packed to the gunnels with people thirsting for innovative knowledge. And we believe the event delivered.
Michael Snook, president of Sunshine Coast Salmonid Enhancement Society, the other sponsor of the evening, summed up the challenges to innovation in his opening address. The process, he said, requires an interesting idea, the management team to make the innovation real and finding the resources — people and money — to implement the concept.
In the weeks to come Coast Reporter will be taking a look at some of the innovators on the Coast and seeing how they’ve applied these three steps to their own ideas. We’ll also be looking at ways government has helped or, in some cases, hindered these processes.
We know there’s a mighty political interest in innovation. It was evident in the presence of so many elected officials at the event.
John Weston, MP for our area, spent the evening engaging with local people and National Research Council Canada reps from the Industrial Research Assistance Program. Weston showed both his interest and sincerity in his participation in the event’s table topic. It’s obviously a topic close to his heart. His remarks about opening his own business and the difficulties in finding financing for his company resonated with many in the crowd.
Councillors Darnelda Siegers of Sechelt and Charlene SanJenko and Gerry Tretick of Gibsons joined the mayors of both the populous areas on the Coast, Wayne Rowe of Gibsons and John Henderson of Sechelt. And while it might be said SanJenko’s attendance was compulsory (she was the host for the event), anyone who’s ever spoken to her knows the passion and perseverance to innovation she expounds. Interestingly, one of the biggest changes for SanJenko personally since coming to the Coast about seven years ago is that now she works “face to face” as opposed to being only a name on a business few people knew when she first moved here.
Donna Shugar, the Area D representative on the Sunshine Coast Regional District board, was also on hand to find ways to add innovation for her Roberts Creek constituents.
For his part, Tretick got the best laugh of the evening by saying he wants innovation to start at the Gibsons Town Hall with the Town making money instead of spending it. Most said it can’t be done — we’re betting on Tretick to find a way.
We hope to see more of these business sessions in the months to come. Earning a living on the Coast is an innovation we can all get behind.