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Report shows Kootenay tech sector is growing

The Kootenay Technology Sector Assessment 2020 is the first of its kind in the region

Submitted by KAST

The Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) and Selkirk College’s Applied Research and Innovation Centre (ARIC) have been working together to measure the tech sector’s impact and its economic health within the West Kootenay region. KAST is thrilled to present the Kootenay Technology Sector Assessment 2020, the first of its kind in the region.

This report assesses the tech sector’s business climate in the region and gives an overview of the local workforce. It paints a picture of the state of the tech sector, exploring business structure, financial health, the impact of COVID-19 and highlighting benefits and challenges unique to the location. This report provides vital information on the economic impact analysis and outlook, which will help guide future economic and community development strategies that strengthen and expand the regional tech sector.

“The goal of this project is to ultimately understand the economic impact of our regional tech sector, attract new talent, strengthen our current workforce and inform policy and decision makers,” said KAST Executive Director, Sean Smillie.

Despite its unique challenges, the Kootenay technology sector is thriving, and advanced manufacturing, cleantech, and cannabis are promising candidates for future growth. Close collaboration with policy-makers and local stakeholders could unearth untapped potential and elevate the region’s tech sector to contribute significantly to provincial success.

A few highlights from this report include:

The regional technology sector employs an estimated total of 3,426 full-time workers with an additional 512 part-time and casual employees.

Wages reported for the Kootenay region are below provincial wages within the sector; yet surpass the industrial average.

The majority of the local tech workforce is 35 years and older, and companies report finding skilled staff to be one of the most prominent challenges for the region.

Most technology businesses in the region are small, with an average annual revenue of $515,057, and due to size, research and development investments are also comparably low.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, employees in the Kootenay region were the least likely to have lost their jobs, with less than one employee laid off per business on average.

For 2019, the Kootenay tech sector reports a combined direct ($405 million) and indirect ($120 million) economic impact for the sector with a total economic impact of $525 million. Even though the region’s tech sector poses a small contribution to the provincial economy, it also demonstrates immense potential.

Businesses project an increase in revenue of 21 per cent for the upcoming year. Many companies report expansion plans within the next three years, and 62 per cent of all businesses look to increase staff numbers over the coming three years.

For more information, check out the full report at kast.com/about/kootenaytechsectorassessment.

The project was funded by Mitacs Accelerate and the BC Rural Dividend Program.

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