Powell River has been chosen to participate in a province-wide pilot program aimed at attracting immigrant entrepreneurs to smaller communities. The program, known as the Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot, is a two-year project run in partnership with the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the participating communities.
To be eligible a region must have a population of less than 75,000 people and be situated at least 30 kilometres from a municipality of that size. The goal is to boost economic growth and investment outside urban areas.
"Due to an aging workforce and a preference for city living, some smaller towns can face challenges growing their local economies," stated BC minister of jobs, trade and technology Bruce Ralston in a media release on Thursday, March 14. "This pilot will attract new businesses that create jobs and spread investment around the province so more British Columbians can benefit from shared prosperity."
Businesses created will have to address specific needs of the community. For Powell River the sectors identified as priorities include food manufacturing, professional, scientific and technical and educational services. In exchange, the communities and local partners will be required to support selected entrepreneurs as they settle.
Interested applicants must first visit the region and obtain a community referral before registering for the pilot. Successful candidates will be granted a temporary work permit and the BC PNP will issue a nomination for permanent residency once the business meets certain criteria, which includes the creation of a minimum of one new job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.