B.C. has Canada’s most diversified economy with retail sales growth outstripping every province in 2015, but the province will have to up its game to ensure its place as a player in an increasingly competitive world economy.
It’s the message Greg D’Avignon, president and CEO of the Business Council of B.C., delivered at the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting and membership luncheon, hosted at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre Wednesday.
The Business Council of B.C. is the province’s main policy and business advocacy organization, which represents the leading businesses in B.C.’s main economic sectors. The business council is conducting workshops across the province, including Nanaimo Wednesday, as part of BC2035: Imagine B.C.’s Future, an eight-month project to discuss ideas with businesses, educational institutions and community partners to develop a 20-year road map for the B.C. economy.
D’Avignon discussed the five forces, such as shifting demographics, rapidly advancing technologies, global connectivity and emerging markets, urbanization and climate, currently changing the world at an unprecedented rate. He said B.C. needs to prepare for those to stay competitive over the coming 20 years.
“B.C. is a small, but maturing, economy of four and a half million people and we’ve got a GDP the size of half of Houston, Texas, but we’re a dynamic first economy in the middle of one of the biggest points of change for business and for society that we’ve seen in over 100 years,” D’Avignon said.
Forces might shape our economic future, but they don’t need to dictate it. That means looking at things differently and “peeling back the walls of traditional thinking.”
“The conversation is about how to leverage those forces and how to look at things slightly differently,” D’Avignon said.
In 1975, there were 7.5 people working in B.C. for every one who retired. There will be 2.5 workers for every retiree in 2035. It means B.C. needs to ad 55,000 new workers per year just to replace the current labour force, D’Avignon said.
New and emerging technologies are changing our personal lives and business and hold economic opportunities. D’Avignon cited the Rocketbook, a cloud-connected, microwavable notebook that, among other communications and productivity features, has “paper” pages made from refuse found in mine tailings ponds.
“What does that mean for traditional businesses?” D’Avignon asked. “What does that mean for the way we need to think about problems of tailing ponds and how we need to deal with those issues in mining and how we turn them into opportunity?”
To learn more about BC2035: Imagine B.C.’s Future, please visit the Business Council of B.C. website at www.bcbc.com.