Cannan: Economic highlights for the community

An Accelerate Okanagan report shows that in 2013, the Okanagan tech industry contributed over $1 billion to our local economy.

When I get the chance to spend a week or two working back in the riding, as I am currently, I like to touch base with companies that impact our local economy to see how they are doing.

Recently I sat down with Michael J and Katie from Big White, Pilar Portela CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, and Anne Denman managing director for Bardel Entertainment, one of the leading animation firms in North America.

Part of our discussion was about a newly completed study, which confirms what we have suspected for some time; our local tech sector is successfully competing with the best in the world.

The Economic Impact Report released by Accelerate Okanagan shows that in 2013, the Okanagan tech industry contributed over $1 billion to our local economy.

The report also confirms that the tech industry is a major source of employment, attracting a younger, well paid workforce to the community, as well as providing high-skilled employment opportunities for many of our young graduates.

According to the report 558 local technology businesses collectively employ a workforce of 6551 employees, with one quarter of the workforce represented by women.

However, a shortage of skilled workers poses a real challenge to our tech sector, as employers compete with companies around the world to attract the best and brightest.

Accelerate Okanagan and companies like Bardel Entertainment believe Big White can play an important role because the top notch activities and amenities offered by Big White are an attractive incentive to employees looking not only for a great job, but also a good quality of life.

Creative, innovative thinking like this is what makes the Okanagan such a great place to do business.  I want to thank talented and committed folks like Anne, Pilar, Michael J, Katie, and all the other unsung heroes who continue to look for ways to attract the best and brightest to the Okanagan, support our local economy, and showcase the Okanagan to the world.

•••

Government extends eligibility for Canada Student Grants

The Prime Minister has announced that the Canada Student Grants program will be extended to qualifying low- and middle-income students enrolled in educational programs with a minimum duration of 34 weeks.

Currently, students must be enrolled in an educational program with a minimum duration of 60 weeks.

The expansion would help approximately 42,000 additional students per year, including approximately 22,000 students at private career colleges.

Over $10 billion annually is invested by the government to support post-secondary education, which includes providing students with financial assistance such as Canada Student Grants.

Canada Student Grants are financial assistance from the Government of Canada that students do not have to pay back.

For more information on the Canada Student Grant program, please go to www.canlearn.ca.

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