BC has started a new Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot. The government says this program will attract entrepreneurs from around the world to establish businesses in regional communities.

The government hopes this will help meet the communities’ economic development needs and encourage investments in rural areas.

“Due to an aging workforce and a preference for city living, some smaller towns can face challenges growing their local economies,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “This pilot will attract new businesses that create jobs and spread investment around the province so more British Columbians can benefit from shared prosperity.”

The B.C. PNP is the province’s only direct economic immigration tool to attract experienced entrepreneurs and high-demand foreign workers. It provides a permanent immigration pathway for people who choose to live and work in B.C.

“Courtenay and Comox offer diverse economies and an attractive lifestyle for newcomers and their families,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “The Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot will help us attract the right investments, skills and people to help the region thrive.”

The City of Courtenay and the Town of Comox were among the first of more than 30 communities to join the pilot. To be eligible to participate, a community must have settlement and business supports in place to help newcomers successfully integrate.

“It is important to expand economic and employment opportunities in the Comox Valley,” said Bob Wells, chair of the Comox Valley Regional District. “By supporting foreign entrepreneurs, we are one step closer to a stronger, more dynamic community.”

The pilot will have an initial two-year period.

Dean Stoltz