Valley First

Great Benefit From Valley First Granfondo

Third annual Valley First Granfondo draws biggest field, greatest benefits
August 1, 2013

Penticton, B.C.—In July, close to 2,700 cyclists descended on the South Okanagan to ride in the third annual Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan. The Granfondo has grown steadily over the last three years, with the latest edition attracting almost 800 more participants than the inaugural ride in 2011.

Along with their bicycles and the party atmosphere, Granfondo riders, support crews and fans drive valuable tourist dollars into the local economy. This year, it is estimated the Granfondo brought $3.3 million to Penticton alone, bringing the total since it was established in 2011 to more than $7 million.

Tourism Penticton CEO Jessie Campbell says the increasing number of riders and event fans are enabling the region and its businesses to recognize even bigger economic spinoffs.

This fact has not gone unnoticed by the Granfondo’s title sponsors, Valley First.

“It’s been simply tremendous to see the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan continue to grow,” says Valley First President Paulette Rennie. “As the title sponsor and proud corporate citizen for communities across the South Okanagan, I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the Granfondo showcases our little slice of paradise, supports our region and attracts such tremendous investment.

“I’m particularly happy with the way the Granfondo brings together corporate sponsors, the business community, municipal partners and the incredible number of participants, supporters and volunteers that make this event possible.”

City of Penticton Deputy Mayor Helena Konanz is also quick to acknowledge the value the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan brings to Penticton.

“Sports tourism offers a great deal for the people of Penticton, be they residents, business owners or visitors to the area,” says Konanz. “Events like the Granfondo are exceptionally valuable by generating significant economic activity while showcasing local products, services and some of the most scenic and iconic areas to ride or train.”

As a result of the looping 160 kilometre Granfondo course, Penticton isn’t the only community that benefits from the exposure created by this event. Summerland, Okanagan Falls, Kaleden and Oliver also received a significant economic boost from the influx of visitors.

“Summerland was thrilled to be a partner in the Granfondo and hope we can participate on a yearly basis,” says District of Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino. “We welcome all of the bikers, family members and friends staying in town for the event and hope they enjoyed themselves as much as we enjoyed having them. See you next year.”

The Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan has additional community benefits as the event again supported Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley. This year participant donations exceeded $10,000 and more than 1,000 pounds of leftover non-perishable food items were donated to the Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank. The event also benefits the Axel Merckx Youth Development Foundation, a not-for-profit initiative aimed to help develop young cyclists in Canada.

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 39 branches and 28 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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