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November 5, 2013

This is it.

You hold in your hand the final print edition of Building a Stronger North.

If you’re reading this online, however, I’m happy to report that there’s a lot more news to come.

Earlier this year, we told you that 2013 would mark the final year of print publication for this newsletter.

The reason for this is simple: we are now able to engage with more of you, our readers, through digital channels than we were ever able to reach with the print edition of this newsletter.

Northern Development serves a region that covers approximately 70% of the geographic area of this province, and it’s not only our duty to be responsive to that region’s economic needs but also to make sure the people in our region know what we’re up to.

During the last year, we’ve put a lot of time and energy into the way that we connect and communicate with the people in this great region.

For starters, our staff, directors and regional advisory committee members are doing what they’ve always done – meeting and speaking directly with the communities, First Nations and non-profit organizations that can access our funding streams.

We want to get more money out into the regions we serve to support exciting new economic development projects – and we believe that building strong relationships across this region is the key to building a stronger north.

Last year, the separate funding pools within each regional development account were combined in an effort to get more money out the door and into worthwhile community investments throughout the region.

I’m happy to report that the Trust has approved $5.8 million in funding in 2013 so far for a total project value of $30 million.

The lion’s share of that funding will go into communities with less than 5,000 people.

I’m also happy to report that the Trust remains sustainable – we only disburse the interest earned off of our existing capital base, which virtually guarantees the Trust will continue to disburse millions of dollars in funding annually to the region. But while we’ve been engaging with the region on a face-to-face basis, we’ve also been strengthening our digital presence.

This year, we’ve really put a focus on building digital engagement levels.

We’re now engaging with our communities on a daily, and in many cases an hourly, basis through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

We’ve also optimized our website to make sure information about our funding programs is simple, succinct and easy to find. After all, it’s our core business.

And, given that traffic to our website via mobile devices has soared more than 180% since last year, we’ve also optimized the site to be mobile responsive – we don’t want you to have to pinch and stretch the screen to get at the information you need.

Today, accessing information about the Trust, what we do, how we do it and why we’re proud of it, is easier than ever – no matter if we see you in the community, you log on to our website or access information via your smartphone or tablet.

That said, we know there are still ways we could improve our communication efforts.

We also recognize that not everyone wants to read about what we’re up to on a screen.

That’s why, in 2014, we’ll be continually working hard to find new ways to improve our communication and engagement with our readers, our communities, our organizations and the region itself.

To us, building a stronger north is more than a corporate slogan – it’s a culture that our staff, directors and regional advisory committee members carry with them into their communities every day. It’s simply how we do business – and we hope that you’ll help us continue the conversation about our shared economic future in northern B.C.

Thanks for reading.