Premier’s jobs plan emphasizes Asia

The premier believes the province's jobs plan has a lot to offer Vancouver Island communities.

The premier believes the province’s jobs plan has a lot to offer Island communities.

Five of the sectors the plan focuses on to bring new dollars into B.C.’s economy play a huge role in employing people on Vancouver Island, Premier Christy Clark told people attending the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s State of the Island Economic Summit Tuesday.

Clark outlined her “Canada Starts Here” jobs plan at the summit, held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, while Occupy Nanaimo protestors yelled outside for her to come talk to them.

Forestry, tourism, agrifoods, international education and technology all create jobs in Island communities, she said.

“Did you know 1,700 international students attend Vancouver Island University?” said Clark. “They pump $60 million every year into your local economy.”

And as for tourism, Clark expects more people will visit B.C. from Asia in the coming years.

“Let’s make sure they visit Vancouver Island while they’re here,” said Clark.

Clark said the plan emphasizes the importance of building trade with India, China and other parts of Asia and aims to take advantage of B.C.’s unique geographic position as Canada’s westernmost province.

“We want to build on the work we’ve already done in Asia,” said Clark, who plans to lead a trade mission to India and China this fall. “That door is open. It’s open a crack. We need to kick it down.”

For those wondering why the focus on Asia, Clark told them to look at Harmac Pacific, which was broke three years ago but is thriving under its employee-owned model, thanks to new markets in China.