Community Events

How can the Okanagan build a future focused resilient economy? October 25

On Point Series #2, October 25 at the Laurel Packinghouse

Urban-Systems-OnPointCardLet’s talk about economic prosperity that can make us a diverse, adaptable, and resilient community. Join us on October 25th at 7pm to learn more about economic development in the Okanagan.

Did you know the Okanagan once boasted a prosperous tobacco industry? Can our economic history teach us about how we can adapt to change?

Is resilience the answer, and if so, what’s the secret sauce? Please join us for a casual evening of local beer, wine, food, music, and art — where we will hear from industry experts and you — community members interested in the future of Kelowna.

When: Tuesday October 25, 7 PM – 9 PM
Where: Laurel Packinghouse, 1304 Ellis Street, Kelowna, BC
Featured Speakers:

  • Larry Widmer – General Manager – Community Futures Development Corporation (Central Okanagan)
  • Keely Bruel – Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm
  • Danielle Levine – Executive Director, Aboriginal Social Enterprise (ASE) Program
  • Raghwa Gopal – CEO, Accelerate Okanagan
  • Laurel Douglas, CEO, Women’s Enterprise Centre

Tickets are FREE, RSVP via Eventbrite


Larry Widmer – General Manager – Community Futures Development Corporation (Central Okanagan)

Urban-Systems-larry-thLarry can be relied on to effectively research, plan, facilitate, develop, launch and manage business and economic development initiatives. It is important to him to help strengthen communities and organizations by providing dedicated effort with creativity, resourcefulness and hands on entrepreneurial approach. Larry provides general management for the CFDCCO to help manage the $3M loan fund, deliver the Self Employment Program, the Youth Mean Business Program and strategic community economic development initiatives. He is the Past Chairperson for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission and a Member of Certified Management Consultants Association of Canada. 


Keely Bruel – Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm

Urban-Systems-keely-250Keely, a fourth generation Stewart, was born and raised in Kelowna. Growing up, she watched her family’s different agricultural businesses mature and develop, with Quails’ Gate Estate Winery in grapes and Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm in lavender. After graduating from Immaculata High School, Keely went on to study at the University of Winnipeg where she earned her BA in English and French Linguistics. Over the next few years, Keely travelled much of Canada during her work teaching English in rural Quebec and French in rural Manitoba. Keely and her husband have recently moved back to Kelowna where she has returned to her family farming roots, joining her parents at Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm.


Danielle Levine – Executive Director, Aboriginal Social Enterprise (ASE) Program

dlevine-th-oct25Danielle is the Executive Director of the newly launched Aboriginal Social Enterprise initiative is an indigenous business educator, advisor and social enterprise practitioner. Danielle has developed an urban Aboriginal social enterprise in Vancouver’s downtown eastside and is a passionate advocate for social enterprise and innovation in indigenous communities. Most recently she has run the Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education program at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia where she taught business, coached and inspired indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs from across Canada. She has also taught business and has been a business advisor at other post secondary institutions and consulting firms in BC. Danielle has an MBA and is Metis and is originally from Winnipeg, MB.


Raghwa Gopal – CEO, Accelerate Okanagan

Urban-Systems-rg-headshot-th-oct25Raghwa is the CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. He is a serial entrepreneur who was instrumental in starting, growing and selling numerous businesses over the last 30 years, the latest being Vadim Software.

Raghwa has been directly involved with and has extensive experience in of mergers and acquisitions. He currently sits on the boards of numerous businesses and not-for-profit organizations. He is a certified Business and Executive Coach and has been recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year and as a Technology Innovator.

Raghwa volunteers for Kelowna Rotary and Chamber of Commerce, loves playing golf and soccer, loves traveling to different parts of the world, and tries and hibernate in Fiji during winter months.

Laurel Douglas, CEO, Women’s Enterprise Centre

laurel3Laurel is the CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC). WEC is the leading business resource centre for women business owners throughout BC. Under Laurel’s leadership since 2004, WEC has become recognized as the go-to place for women entrepreneurs in BC and a best practice internationally. WEC provides business loans up to $150,000, advisory services, skills training, mentoring and resources to women who are starting or growing their own business from its three offices in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria.

Laurel spent the first 20 years of her career in the financial services and technology sectors in Canada, France, Germany and the UK. Over the years, Laurel developed a passion for empowering women to their business success. She settled in BC in the mid 90’s and chose economic development as her vocation. She has served on the board of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission since 2003. She is a founding member of the National Taskforce on Women’s Business Growth and Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada. Committed to the future of BC’s post-secondary education, she also sits on UBCO’s External Advisory Committee, and is a member of the provincial Degree Quality Assessment Board.

Laurel is often asked to present on the topics of women’s leadership and entrepreneurship, and was one of two Canadian presenters at the 2011 APEC Summit in San Francisco which she attended as part of the Canadian delegation. Laurel has received several awards recognizing her contributions to economic development and small business in BC, including the EDABC and Small Business BC. She was one of 100 people worldwide recognized in 2011 for their efforts in advancing the economic empowerment of women from the international organization, TIAW. In 2015 she was honoured with the Wendy McDonald Community Catalyst Award from the Women’s Leadership Circle of the Vancouver Board of Trade.

We are proud to be sponsoring On Point in support of the City of Kelowna’s community-centred initiative, Imagine Kelowna.

Imagine Kelowna is about our future. It is our collective vision for our community.

How can we move from vision to reality when shaping the very city we work and play in? Mayor, Council and City staff will do their part – they will use our vision to inform investments, efforts and decisions within our community. Awesome. That’s one piece of the puzzle. But we, as community members, have a part to play as well.

On Point: A Series of Upside Down Town Halls is your invitation to participate in building the future of Kelowna through four evenings of open dialog amongst community members. Together, we will discuss relevant topics and create connections that deepen our community.

We can be provocative yet balanced by inviting better conversation. On Point is about sharing diverse stories from interesting people and mixing facts with opinions, emotions and feelings.

What are the timely and gritty topics that need greater attention in the Okanagan?

  • Economic Development – What does economic resilience mean for our region, our community? Are there tough choices ahead that frame our economic future? (Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016)
  • Climate Change – Should we foster greater responsibility towards our environment, our climate? Perspectives about the villains and heros in our climate story. (Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016)
  • Transportation – Are we stuck, literally? How are we getting around… and getting along in the process? Do we need a new relationship with transportation and mobility in our region? (Thursday, Dec 8, 2016)

Please join us for one or all of these FREE evenings throughout the Fall at The Laurel Packinghouse.

Here is a video featuring snippets from our first Upside Down Town Hall

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