A newly launched pilot program meant to attract entrepreneurs from around the world to small town B.C. has already generated interest on the local front.
As the region’s key player in economic development, the LCIC (Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation) is a natural fit to partner with the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot.
“The LCIC is excited to be participating in this regional pilot program to attract new businesses and entrepreneurs into the region with a new pathway for immigrants to streamline permanent residency,” Terry Van Horn, LCIC Executive Director, told the Trail Times.
“We have already had 15 inquiries through this program since it was announced last week, and are working closely with the province to triage the applicants.”
Smaller towns can face challenges to growing their local economies, so the ministry geared the program toward communities with populations under 75,000 that are located 30 kilometres away from a municipality of more than 75,000.
Those that fit the criteria must also identify three priority economic development sectors.
“With skilled workforce and business attraction as two of LCIC’s key economic development strategies, this pilot program allows the LCIC more visibility on a provincial and global scale to highlight the region as a place to invest in,” said Van Horn.
Besides parameters in community size, the pilot also stipulates criteria for successful applicants. For instance, each successful applicant must maintain a 51 per cent ownership (local partnerships are permitted) of their business and live in the community.
Additionally, they must also have more than three years of experience as an active business owner or more than four years as a senior manager within the last five years.
“The program allows regional communities to identify their key sectors to attract businesses and entrepreneurs who would be a good fit for the community; sectors like mining and metallurgical, heath care, technology, and tourism,” Van Horn explained.
“This will help make sure we are attracting the right businesses and entrepreneurs to the region,” she said.
“We will get an opportunity to meet with the entrepreneur personally and show them the region before they have to make a final commitment to relocate which will allow for better integration, ensuing retention and success for both the community and the immigrant.”
Interested foreign entrepreneurs are required to visit the community and present their business idea to make sure their business plan is consistent with the community’s economic priorities. And, they must have a personal net worth of $300,000 make a minimum investment of $100,000 in a new business and create one job.
For the existing B.C. Provincial Nominee Program Entrepreneur Immigration base category, applicants may start or purchase an existing business, must have a net worth of $600,000, a business investment of $200,000 and create one new job.
In 2018, 152 invitations were issued through the B.C. Provincial Nominee Entrepreneur Immigration base category. The entrepreneur immigration program has generated more than 2,000 jobs since 2010.
The LCIC is a partnership between Columbia Basin Trust and the five eastern municipalities; City of Rossland, City of Trail, Village of Warfield, Village of Montrose, Village of Fruitvale and electoral areas A and B of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.