Could Vancouver Island become B.C.’s new silicon valley?

Ultimately, that’s the vision of the Vancouver Island Coast Economic Development Association (VICEDA).

It’s the driving force behind the association’s new marketing initiative aimed at getting tech companies to invest on the island.

The joint initiative created and launched a new website back in May. Click here to connect to it.

VICEDA president Rose Klukas says they’re looking at ways of expanding the island’s economic horizons.

“We know that technology is one of those areas that allows communities to grow businesses (and) often have good paying jobs attached to it, so we decided to work together, to develop a regional tech attraction strategy,” she said.

The goal is to ramp up the region’s online presence by sharing the story of Vancouver Island, including investment advantages, profiles of participating communities, and available resources. 

It will promote the island as an area for tech-related investment and remote and mobile workforce opportunities.

The marketing project is one of a key recommendation from the recently developed strategy, led by a partnership of communities north of the Malahat. 

“The goal of this project is to proactively target investors and tech companies that are interested in what our region and its communities have to offer,” added Klukas, who is also Economic Development Officer for the City of Campbell River. 

“During the past few years, and especially during the pandemic, we have been witnessing increased mobile workforce interest in our region and relocation of teams and satellite offices outside of major urban centres.”

Klukas says technology is also a part of innovating within sectors that are already important to the economy “including aquaculture and forestry and other natural resources that have historically been a big contributor to our local economy.”

“Innovation, technology are ways those industries are going to continue to grow but it’s also a way to bring in new business development.”

Island Coastal Economic Trust board chair Aaron Stone said investment attraction is a cornerstone for economic development “and digital marketing is an increasingly important tool to ensure communities are competitive in the global economy.”

“This project builds on the long-term positioning of Vancouver Island as a preferred location for technology and innovation businesses and workers,” he added.

The VICEDA Regional Tech Attraction Group is open to all communities on Vancouver Island, north of the Malahat and currently includes Campbell River, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

The project is expected to get underway shortly.

“We are now at that stage of the project where, we have created the strategy, we have a fantastic website, and we are now moving into that marketing component and try to determine who is our target market, and how are we going to grab their attention and showcase Vancouver Island as a great place to live and do business.”

Klukas added that the pandemic has shown the opportunities of working remotely, “that you can live anywhere, and work anywhere,” including smaller communities.

More details about the Economic Development Readiness Program can be found here.