Colwood-based publisher Mike Wicks is writing books for municipalities to use for economic development.

Books back economic development

Colwood publisher creates upbeat books for municipal promotion

A Colwood publisher is launching a book series focused on community profiles as a means to generate economic development, and Langford is the first out of the gates.

With a glossy cover and photos and stories of all things good in Langford, “City of Langford, Living the Lifestyle” launched last October when the bowling centre and ice arena opened at City Centre Park.

The book features stories and photos of Langford’s residential growth, recreational highlights and festivals. The idea is for City staff and politicians to use the book as means to help promote the community and draw investment and new businesses.

“The idea is a series of landmark books that act as economic development drivers, as promotional tools to back economic development initiatives,” said Mike Wicks, the author and publisher of the book under Blue Beetle Books. “We want to promote the community by telling the story of the community.”

City officials have been keen to distribute the book at public events, such as Langford’s recent economic forum at Bear Mountain, and the federal E&N rail funding announcement. The City received a 1,000 free copies for distribution.

The economic model behind the book requires 10 “community champions” — local commercial businesses and property development companies — to pre-buy 220 copies each, for about $4,750. In return they receive written profiles in the back half of the book.

“We don’t want advertisements, we want to get out valuable information, for people to read the book and learn about people driving the community,” said Wicks, the former CEO of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce and who founded West Shore magazine.

Colwood is the next community on the list, with a book expected out in early July. Wicks, who writes much of the copy, will focus on the City’s iconic areas — the Esquimalt Lagoon, Royal Roads, Fort Rodd Hill, it’s golf courses and recreation. He’ll also delve into city’s major development at Colwood Corners, now called Capital City Centre.

“We’ll talk about Solar Colwood, the development of the first learning community,” Wicks said. “About all the trails and walks and the beach. People don’t realize how much they have in Colwood.”

Wicks launched Blue Beetle Books from his Colwood home in February 2011. He started in publishing as a 19-year-old in London, England, and moved up the ladder to become deputy head of Random House U.K. He moved to Canada in 1992.

In theme of Langford and Colwood, Wicks said a book highlighting Revelstoke is “85 per cent sold” and other communities across the country are keeping watch.

“These are the first few to get established. I’m in early stages of discussions with other communities on Vancouver Island, in B.C. and Alberta.”

Like Langford, Colwood will receive 1,000 copies to distribute as they see fit. Wicks said he doesn’t accept money from the municipality, but he does consult with the administration and politicians to keep the message tuned to the interests of the City.

“There is no legal obligation to the city, but we reach out to the city and want them to be involved. They can give them out to promote the community of which we are proud.”