University Economic Development Association


Regional Workforce Development in Rural British Columbia, Canada

Award Category: Place
Project Site: Regional Workforce Development in Rural British Columbia, Canada
Submitted By: Selkirk College
Contact: Dr. Terri MacDonald , 250.365.1434


Recognizing that rural regions are emerging as the vital relational asset for distilling learning-based competitive advantage, the Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Selkirk College envisioned the Regional Workforce Development in Rural BC project in 2015. Awarded $240,000 in federal funding – leveraging an additional $500,000 in partner contributions, the initiative has been advancing workforce innovation in regional economic development by drawing on learnings from Purdue University’s WIRED initiative, including Strategic Doing.

Operating at the nexus of talent, place and innovation, Strategic Doing, developed by Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab, continues to advance Selkirk College’s strategic goal of expanding its impact on community development and innovation. Strategic Doing uses guided conversations to mobilize the assets of the people in the room by envisioning what could we do?, what should we do?, and what will we do together? It is a new strategy discipline that is low cost, replicable, scalable and innovative.

As a Strategic Doing anchor institution, Selkirk College is advancing a ‘talent-focused’ dimension through the provision of Strategic Doing training and workshop facilitation delivery that is grounded in a learning regions approach. A ‘place-empowered’ dimension uses Strategic Doing to move communities to strategic action by linking and leveraging place-based assets. Applied research designed to test best practices in rural development uses Strategic Doing to advance an ‘innovation inspired’ dimension. In less than 2 years, the RDI at Selkirk College has trained 410 highly qualified personnel to use Strategic Doing to co-construct 42 Pathfinder Projects, over 50% of which are now complete.