Hope’s business opportunities and locational advantages were recently presented to a group of curious foreign business-people learning about B.C.’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
The downtown Vancouver meeting room was filled with potential immigrants from Iran, Mexico, Australia, China, and other countries. All those attending were interested in the opportunities that British Columbia could offer them in terms of starting a new business, buying an existing enterprise, or expanding their current operations to our province.
The PNP program is very simple in its basics. A business plan or purchase is approved, and the potential investor agrees to the parameters of the investment (minimum $200,000 for our area as opposed to $400,000 for Vancouver/Abbotsford, offering us a clear advantage to start).
The business-person proceeds with implementing the business plan while in B.C. on a work visa. Once it becomes clear that the proponent is abiding by the conditions of the program (such as type of investment and number of new employees hired) they are then sponsored by the provincial government to become a landed immigrant. This win-win scenario facilitates new investment and job creation for our province, while the proponent gains business mentorship and connections, as well as access to a more streamlined federal immigration process.
Such a program is tremendous for Hope. We are one of the few communities that enjoy both a lower investment threshold than the Vancouver and Abbotsford areas and close proximity to the market base and cultural amenities of the larger cities.
As a result, our community has fielded a number of inquiries from individuals, immigration specialists, and real estate agents interested in the unique opportunities offered by our community. It is refreshing to see our beautiful community through the eyes of newcomers, eager to see the potential of a community and how it could fit into their investment and immigration plans.
Building off of this successful program is a new online database of investment opportunities called OpportunityBC (located at www.britishcolumbia.ca). This database is hosted and managed by the B.C. trade and investment office, which works to attract new foreign investment into our communities.
Any person with a BCeID can load opportunities onto the website; after local economic development officers proof and approve the opportunity, the listing is up for the world to see. Not only that, but this database is used by the B.C. trade and investment offices around the world to promote local investment opportunities and businesses for sale in communities throughout the province, not just in the large urban centres such as Vancouver or Kelowna.
What does this database have to do with the PNP program? They are both indicators of co-ordinated efforts between local communities and provincial agencies to connect investment, immigrants, and ideas to the opportunities, businesses, and resources of our province.
As Hope’s (and the rest of the province’s) population ages, business succession planning, internal capacity building, and home-grown opportunities will continue to form the bedrock of future growth.
These foreign investment programs are the key to ensuring that the businesses, ideas, and wealth of our communities have additional source fuels of youth, capital, and innovation to continue to grow and provide vibrant economies for our residents.
Tyler Mattheis is executive director of AdvantageHOPE, Hope’s economic development agency. He can be reached at 604-860-0930 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.