Rose Klukas and Karla Duerte – the City of Campbell River’s economic development team – have a brainstorming session downtown at Campbell River Coworking. Photo courtesy CR Economic Development

Opportunity, entrepreneurship, just two of many goals for City of Campbell River’s Economic Development team

‘2019 has been an exciting year as we gain traction on initiatives we’ve been exploring’

Rose Klukas and Karla Duerte have been keeping themselves busy throughout 2019 down at City Hall.

They’re the people behind the City of Campbell River’s Economic Development department, and Duerte says between developing incubators, putting on events like the Youth Hackathon and hosting a ton of meetings in their Modern Entrepreneur series, there was very little downtime over the last 12 months.

“2019 has been an exciting year as we gain traction on initiatives we’ve been exploring for a couple of years, such as tech and future forward industries,” Duerte says. “Our NexStream Tech competitions are an example of an innovative way we, as local government, have been able to collaborate with Campbell River Area Angel Investors to solve real issues while at the same time helping to grow businesses. And it draws attention to the opportunities in our beautiful city.”

One of the many things Klukas and Duerte immersed themselves in this year was the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration – Regional Pilot (EI – Regional Pilot).

The City of Campbell River is a participant community in the BC PNP EI – Regional Pilot which is focused on attracting entrepreneurs from around the world to establish businesses in regional communities, which is meant to help meet the communities’ economic development needs and encourage investments outside urban areas. To date, the city has received almost 200 inquiries from entrepreneurs around the world.

The city also launched the first ever Good Food Biz Incubator aimed at encouraging food entrepreneurs to take their idea to market. It was held over 11 weeks in partnership with Spring Activator and had 13 participants.

“Food is an important part of any community and we were looking for ways to support food businesses in Campbell River,” Duerte says. “We launched the Good Food Biz and weren’t sure what uptake the program would get. In the end we had a full cohort, with a broad range of ideas and experience, proving that food is a major area of growth in all aspects. We hope to be able to offer another incubator in 2020.”

In 2019 the city also launched the first ever Hackathon that took place over two days in May. This Hackathon brought together high school students Grades 8-12 to provide their ideas for a youth friendly city using technology. First place winners, Carihi’s Mr. Bagley’s Bagels, provided a solution for transportation through a bike share program. The Hackathon was supported by mentors and tech partners.

TECHATCHERY is another initiative that began in 2019. That’s the name of Campbell River’s tech incubator, supporting ideas and growth around products and services related to technology. The vision for this incubator is to Bring together a broad range of creative individuals and businesses to lead to rich discussions about the challenges, capabilities and opportunities that exist within community. Add financial resources; collaborative work spaces; access to subject experts as well as learning opportunities, and creative solutions will follow. TECHATCHERY initiatives include NexStream Tech Competition, Hackathon, and any other ideas and initiatives around technology. Watch for the website in 2020.

Last but certainly not least, Economic Development hosted several Modern Entrepreneur workshops in 2019, aimed at providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and community members to learn about business and economic trends, networking, and fostering a creative environment.

“In 2019 we had 15 different Modern Entrepreneur professional development, networking or fireside chat events and the 2020 line up is shaping up,” Duerte says. “The Modern Entrepreneur Series is a great opportunity to learn new things and connect with new people.”

The Economic Development Office welcomes any questions you have about Campbell River and can be contacted at invest@campbellriver.ca or by phone at 250-286-5738.

More information on BC PNP EI program can be found at www.campbellriver.ca/business-economy/bc-pnp-pilot

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