May 9, 2017 9:34 pm

The Penticton Indian Band’s pursuit of economic prosperity

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It was once described as a bridge to nowhere, but now it may be a bridge to opportunity.

“I think the investment in the infrastructure is really important. As you can see there is a lot of undeveloped land here,” said Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas.

With the eight million dollar bridge now in place, connecting highway 97 to the land adjacent to the Penticton Regional Airport, the Penticton Indian Band is starting to see the fruits of its labour.

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Construction has begun on the new Penticton Nissan auto dealership set to open in December 2017 as the first business lease of the Penticton Indian Band’s Satikw Crossing development properties.

The Penticton Indian Band recently elected a new chief, which means a new vision for economic development.

“We want investors that are real, that aren’t to just come and hope to make a quick buck, they are here,” Eneas said.

The band has hired Chris Scott, the former chief operating officer for the Osoyoos Indian Band renowned for building a business empire, as a business advisor.

“We’ve got some really great consultants on our team that said in time you will generate sufficient revenue to not only pay off your debt but to provide a steady stream of taxation and DCC’s, development cost charges, flowing to the band,” Scott said. “That’s where I think you see the strength of bands like Westbank or Osoyoos, they built up that taxation base to become very strong.”

The PIB, with the largest reserve lands in the province, has seen a flurry of development activity over the past five years.

It’s a shareholder in the 550-acre resort-residential development called Skaha Hills, which will eventually see 600 homes built on band land.

It’s also completed construction of a health centre and cultural school and a community care centre is on the horizon.

“That’s going to address some of those community issues around mental illness, addictions and elder care.” Eneas said.

Transforming economic opportunity into prosperity for band members.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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