Meet the COEDC — Laura Thurnheer

Meet the COEDC February 13, 2024

Editors Intro:

The aim of the Meet the COEDC campaign is to share with our community who the Economic Development Commission is and highlight the COEDC Advisory Committee members who play a critical role guiding the regional economic development service.

The COEDC Advisory Committee is a conduit of information between business, community leaders and government. The committee meets monthly to share information and work together towards sustainable economic growth. It is made up of 45 influential members consisting of industry leaders, community shapers and elected officials. One of these such members being Laura Thurnheer!

As an active member of her local business community, Laura is very aware of the challenges facing businesses today and strives to help new and existing businesses develop and expand. Laura is a Past President of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, a past Director with the British Columbia Wine Authority, and a past Director with the Charter Professionals in Human Resources of BC & Yukon. She is currently the Past-President of KCR Community Resources and was recently appointed to the executive of the Okanagan Chapter of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). Laura also sits as the Okanagan College Representative on the Central Okanagan Economic Advisory Committee.

In addition to her professional career, Laura and her husband own a small business called Swiss Skid Steer Solutions. This business focuses on maintenance & repair and sales of mid-size construction machinery. Laura provides administrative and planning support for their family business.

Continue reading to learn more about Laura’s outlook on industry specific trends and forecasts for the Central Okanagan.

Check in each month to meet a new member of the Advisory Committee, and to learn why they love to live and work in the Central Okanagan!


What organization are you from and what is your role?

I am an Associate Dean in the Okanagan School of Business at Okanagan College. In this role I work with a leadership team and approximately 90 faculty and staff, serving 1500 Business students across four campuses in the Okanagan and Shuswap area. Most recently, I was an Associate Dean in The Science, Technology and Health portfolio at Okanagan College (2018 – 2021) working with 13 teaching departments in the Science and Technology areas. As a Business Administration professor in the Okanagan School of Business (2007 – 2018), I specialize in teaching Tourism, Leadership, Strategic Management, Strategic Human Resources Planning, and Organizational Development and Change.

What excites you about the future of your respective sector?

The area of post-secondary remains an exciting sector to work in. Helping both young and mature students reach their educational goals is both motivating and rewarding. Our sector has faced numerous challenges over the last few years, and we expect more to come as educational delivery models evolve. Working through change, and overcoming related challenges, has created a stronger and more diverse educational sector locally, which has led to both better student outcomes and stronger support for employers.

Why is participating in the Advisory Committee important to you?

I believe that post-secondary is a critical sector and should be present during regional discussions that influence both the future of our area and our economy. Post-secondary supports numerous other sectors by providing much needed human capital. Being involved in the discussions on emerging trends and needs helps us to better plan our academic, vocational, and continuing studies programming. I also appreciate the privilege of learning from other political and industry leaders in our region.

Why do you love living and working in the Okanagan?

I feel very fortunate to work and play in the Okanagan. For me the outdoor recreation so readily accessible makes for a great quality of life. I can work hard but also easily golf, ski, and kayak on weekends. Over the years I have built a great network of colleagues across many sectors and appreciate that we all work collaboratively to make the Okanagan a better place for all.

Learn more about the Okanagan School of Business here!