Regional Highlight Series: Vancouver Island and Coast

Regional Highlight Series: Vancouver Island and Coast

September 2, 2020 Posted by Abby Pollen

The Vancouver Island and Coast region is located on the west coast of British Columbia and includes all of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and some of the coastal regions of the Mainland. This region is known for its temperate climate, unspoiled wilderness and beautiful coastlines. Business advantages include quick and easy access to other tech and tourism hubs like Vancouver and Seattle with a wide range of transportation options.

Businesses on the island and coast have access to networks of economic development professionals and close-knit communities, helping create outsized opportunities that can leverage whole sub-regions. The workforce here is skilled and diverse, with access to top-rated training and education from the University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University and Royal Roads University. Strong economic development plans like Victoria 3.0 are developing business-enabling municipal policies that keep the region at the forefront of business interest.

Economic Development and Investor Support

Wherever you want to locate, there is an economic development organization that can support your investment. The government has specific funding to support research and development, including funding to support innovative solutions, health research, genomics, climate solutions, natural resources sustainability, and many more.

The Foreign Trade Zone and Vancouver Island

The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance offers an economic map and searchable library of contact information, lists, data and a comprehensive economic report. They have also launched the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) for Vancouver Island to serve the import and export interests of local businesses and transportation providers with all the advantages afforded FTZ Points by the Government of Canada.

The island has a strong network of organizations offering specialised information to support investment and expansion.

• The South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) is an alliance of over 60 public and private-sector partners in Greater Victoria, including 11 local governments, nine First Nations, three post-secondary institutions, nine industry associations and non-profits, and more than 30 major employers. See their full brochure here.

• VIATEC provides resources to help tech startups and expansions develop opportunities and tackle challenges while boosting a sense of belonging in the region. They offer a variety of eventsprograms and services. Their physical location, Fort Tectoria, houses flexible and affordable office space and an event space for local entrepreneurs.

• Innovation Island is an accelerator dedicated to supporting tech entrepreneurs. Companies this accelerator has supported reflect the diversity of the region and span sectors including life sciences, interactive gaming, agritech, sports tech and more.

• The Community Futures office provides business loans, technical support, business counselling, training programs, strategic planning and project development and access to grant capital.

• Invest Nanaimo supports new startups, attracts new businesses and fosters expansion, and promotes Nanaimo as a premier destination for work-life balance. Visit their site for help developing a business plan, comprehensive local market research, relocation and site selection services and other business resources.

• TechIsland is an initiative designed to encourage investment in the local technology sector. Watch their video.

On the Coast

Sunshine Coast Economic Development has everything investors need to know about the communities, businesses, infrastructure and more of the coastal region.

Across the Region

The BC Economic Development Association (BCEDA) provides services that help communities grow and expand new and existing businesses, attract new business investments, and work towards strategic infrastructure investment, land use planning, and community enhancement.

The region is a participant in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Pilot that facilitates immigration for skilled workers. Find PNP information and a general overview of the program here and information specific to the Sunshine Coast here.

Quality of Life

This region offers a quality of life that makes it easy to attract and retain talent. The geography lends itself to extreme sports like surfing and mountain biking and has inspired a health-conscious culture with opportunities in wellness retreats, adventure tourism and hospitality. Further opportunities in health care, public administration, accommodation and tourism draw top talent and keep it here.

Ancient rainforests meet world-class surf breaks in a landscape that has inspired many artists, festivals and cultural events. It has also been home to some of the most creative, disruptive and successful entrepreneurs and tech companies in the past decade. The temperate climate keeps travel and transport easy year-round, as does the highly advanced transportation infrastructure. It also allows for strong, diverse agriculture and aquiculture that are well placed to deliver high-end and farm-to-table products.

Ease of Access

With so many popular travel, tourism and adventure locations, British Columbia has developed a robust transportation system including ferries, trains, planes and roadways. Float planes and small aircraft serve even the most remote communities and can offer day trips to major hubs in B.C. and the U.S. like Vancouver and Seattle.

The region has also developed communities that deliver on a personal and professional level, spanning the infrastructure of business centres and family-oriented services like schools and sports centres. Many of the communities here enjoy short commutes enhanced by developed cycling and transit routes.

Startups and Success Stories

Experienced local talent makes it easy to launch a business or build out a team, and local post-secondary institutions excel in innovation and technology-related teaching and research. Co-operative education programs and facilitating organizations like MITACS help graduates integrate with local businesses, incubators and accelerators. Tightknit communities in this region support businesses and help each other grow.

Biopreme is a medical technology company that has devised a low-cost syringe adaptor to reduce anxiety associated with conventional injections. Cloudhead Games is a forward-thinking video game studio with an emphasis on the creation of new gaming experiences using cutting edge virtual reality & motion control technologies. Kranked Bikes makes state of the art, high performance electric mountain bikes. These are just a few of the examples of the creativity and innovation that have emerged from this region.

The thriving tech industry has access to talent and real estate at a fraction of the price in comparable jurisdictions like Central California, as well as extensive broadband and cellular infrastructure. Projects like Connected Coast bring world-class fiber optics to an increasing number of communities in the region. Explore the advantages of locating along Vancouver Island or the Coast!

Coming Up Next

For more information, visit our communities page or contact the regional expert. Check out the State of the Island Economic Summit to participate in a broad range of sessions which revolve around the collaboration and vitality to the Vancouver Island economy. Stay tuned for future blogs on other regions of British Columbia, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter for regular updates.
 
 

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