A State of the Island economic report will be released this week at the Vancouver Island Economic Summit. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance photo)

Vancouver Island Economic Summit will create connections, spark discussion

Two-day event begins Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Business and community leaders from across Vancouver Island will get together in Nanaimo to talk about the economy and other themes.

The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s annual economic summit will kick off Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

The two-day event (Oct. 24-25) features a trade show, networking opportunities, tech showcases, seminars, dinners and presentations from B.C. Premier John Horgan and Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

George Hanson, president of Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, said the event will see the release of the fourth-annual economic report for the Island, as well as results from the alliance’s Island Good campaign, a marketing initiative designed to promote food products from the Island. He said while Vancouver Island’s economy is generally healthy, there is uncertainty about the future.

“I would say there is cautious optimism right now. There is a lot of uncertainty south of the border,” he said. “Where the economy will go in the future is a question mark, but right now it is very good.”

Hanson said the summit is the “only place” on the Island where people from the public and private sectors get together for this type of event. He said First Nations, local politicians and businesses of all sizes will be participating.

“It’s a non-sectoral-specific event in that we get people from all over the Island, from Port Hardy to Victoria and everywhere in between,” he said, adding that it’s a “thought-provoking event.”

In addition to presentations from Hogan and Wilkinson, there will also be speeches from Celeste Haldane, the chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission, and Katrina Marquez, senior patient services manager with Tilray.

“We’ve got four major presentations, 16 topical sessions, a tech showcase. The range of topics is significant. From cannabis legalizing to the Me Too movement to safe community to the marine environment and on and on it goes,” he said.

RELATED: Island Foreign Trade Zone designation explained at VIEA Summit

The summit is an opportunity for businesses and individuals to make new connections and forge new relationships according to Hanson, who said the summit also exposes existing challenges and barriers for the Island economy and is a way for businesses to collaborate to solve those problems. He said one challenge facing the Island economy is a shortage in labour, particularly in the marine sector.

“We know for a fact that there is huge opportunity and demand for skilled labour in the marine sector and there are also training opportunties right here on Vancouver Island that people may not be considering to the degree that they should be,” he said. “There are a lot of good jobs in the marine sector. It seems to be going unnoticed.”

Array Web and Creative, Comox Valley Economic Development Society, Black Press, Douglas Magazine, Eclipse HR, HA Photography, Northwest Properties, Steelhead LNG, MNP, United Way, TD Bank, Harbour Air and Fortis B.C. are among the companies participating in the trade show portion of the summit.


nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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