Foreign entrepreneurs looking to work in Terrace can now benefit from a new provincial immigration tool directly connecting them to opportunities within local industries.
The City of Terrace is one of 30 other communities participating in the BC Provincial Nominee Program’s (BC PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration-Regional Pilot. This partnership is aimed at attracting entrepreneurs from all over the world to create jobs in priority sectors in centres with populations less than 75,000.
“We see it as a good tool for business attraction, so when we see opportunities out there we’ve got to seize them,” says Danielle Myles, city economic development manager.
The program announced last year is a slightly different pathway of the province’s BC PNP, which gives foreign workers and experienced entrepreneurs looking to expand in B.C. an incentive to gain permanent residency.
This option lowers the net-worth and investment requirements and calls for a sign-off from the community in order to establish anything long-term. The nomination process has also been expedited for high-scoring applicants, cutting the typical two-year timeframe to one-year. An exploratory visit and community engagement is also now required before registering.
The process works like this — first, the applicant submits a form via email to Terrace’s PNP committee, shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview, and if successful, the entrepreneur will be invited for an exploratory site visit.
Then the committee, which includes the City of Terrace, Terrace Chamber of Commerce and Skeena Diversity Centre, will make a final decision regarding the community’s referral back to the province. BC PNP will then nominate the business owner for permanent residence.
The city has identified three industries that would most benefit from the program, including agriculture and forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction, and manufacturing for a diverse range of products, such as medical equipment and supplies, jewellery and sporting goods.
“The priority project for Terrace is the Skeena Industrial Development Park (SIDP). We want to see more industrial development, which helps us to generate revenues as a municipality,” Myles says, adding the SIDP is geared towards manufacturing of products in the three sectors.
“It creates jobs of course, but it generates those revenues to put back into infrastructure and services to strengthen our community.”
Other possible locations for new businesses include the light-industrial land available along Keith Ave., Kenny St. and Hwy 16, Myles says.
Eligible entrepreneur applicants wishing to immigrate to a participating BC community must have a net worth of at least $300,000 and make a minimum investment of $100,000 into a new business. They must also hire at least one Canadian full-time employee.
These entrepreneurs will be arriving in the city with quite a bit of capital to spend, but Myles says the city is not concerned about the more wealthy newcomers potentially driving up inflation rates.
“Those numbers are moderate numbers for business investment, and this pilot program is meant to target small to medium-sized business. There are other streams of this program for larger business and corporations to apply, so I’m not concerned about that,” Myles says.
The province’s goal is to send out around 500 applications between the 31 participating communities, Myles says. Terrace’s committee hasn’t specified a cap on the number of applications it will process, but there will be opportunities within the first year to review and reevaluate the city’s capacity to continue with the pilot.
Terrace’s BC PNP committee will also provide both business and services to help newcomers settle into the area.
“We will be working closely with those agencies to make sure that when we have an interested party that it’s a good fit for the community, that they have services through those organizations to integrate into Terrace,” Myles says.
The program is still very new so it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the interest level, but Myles says investors are recognizing the benefits of establishing their businesses in Terrace.
“Businesses that call me and want to come to the region, they’re really excited about Terrace because they have access to all of our neighbouring communities and many major projects,” she says. “It’s a smart place to establish and grow a business because of the long-term sustainability in our region.”