Municipal and provincial authorities are jumping for joy after the federal government chose Kelowna as one of the recently announced subsites of the Pacific Economic Development Agency, also known as PacifiCan.
Melanie Jolly, National Minister for Economic Development and Official Languages, presented Pacifican Thursday morning in Surrey. He also announced the creation of Prairie Economic Development Canada, which will help businesses in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
This is the first time in more than 30 years that the federal government has strengthened its presence in economic development and services in Western Canada.
In addition to Kelowna, PacifiCan will have service points in Victoria, Surrey, Campbell River, Prince Rupert, Fort St John, Prince George and Cranbrook. It will build on the economic diversification of Western Canada, which has been in place for 34 years, in close collaboration with businesses, innovators and communities in British Columbia; strengthening relationships and investments to promote economic growth; and helping organizations navigate federal programs and policies.
“As Canada’s most entrepreneurial region and a leader in economic recovery, Kelowna and Central Okanagan are a perfect fit for the Pacific Cannes chapter,” Colin Basran, Mayor of Kelowna, said in a press release.
This new agency and leadership will build on the current momentum of our economy and ultimately create more effective engagement between regional businesses and the federal government.
The Central Okanagan Regional Economic Recovery Task Force, the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, the UBC Okanagan, the Accelerate Okanagan and the regional chambers of commerce have spent the past year lobbying for the location of the Central Okanagan chapter.
“We are pleased to announce today the PacifiCan office in Central Okanagan,” said RDCO President Jill Geffen. The Regional Economic Recovery Task Force encouraged the federal government to recognize the economic strength of Central Okanagan by establishing a branch of the new agency in the region.
“We are pleased that Secretary (Melani) Jolie has supported our request, as evidenced by today’s announcement.”
The union announced its regional development plan in this year’s budget, when it pledged $553.1 million over five years to PacifiCan, beginning in 2021-2022, and $110.6 million is in the pipeline.
Service points in Kelowna and other communities in British Columbia will be launched over a period of a few months.
“The British Columbia economy is growing and diversifying more and more every day, which requires a personal approach that takes into account its needs and seizes its opportunities,” Jolie said. “We are proud to invest in the economic future of innovators, businesses and communities in British Columbia by creating PacifiCan.
“For more than 30 years, WD has done a tremendous job in the West, and this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter.”
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