(Image / Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology)

Two Vancouver Island communities are among the first to try out a new provincial immigration support program, which strives to help new residents establish their own businesses in BC.

Alongside 30 other BC communities, Courtenay and Comox have joined BC’s new Provincial Nominee Program (PMP) Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot, which is focusing on attracting entrepreneurs to more rural areas of the province.  

“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.”

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The BC PNP is the first and only direct economic resource for immigrants looking to start a business, and the province hopes that the program will attract experienced entrepreneurs and “high-demand” foreign workers.

The City of Courtenay and the Town of Comox were some of the first to sign on to the new program.

“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.”

While BC already has existing PNP Entrepreneur Immigration resources, this new pilot program will have different financial criteria requirements to reflect the lower cost of starting a business in a smaller community.

“After looking throughout BC we saw great potential to run a business here in Courtenay,” said Zhengfu Zhao, local business owner. “My family was able to start this wonderful journey because of the BC Provincial Nominee Program, and we’re incredibly proud to have established roots here and grown our restaurant in Comox Valley.”

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