The economic state of Castlegar & District

A look at the themes discussed at the State of the Kootenays: An Economic Update

Castlegar’s first economic forum featured four panelists from various local industries. Each had a different background and area of expertise, however similar themes appeared across their speeches. Speakers included: Keynote speaker economist Helmut Pastrick from Central 1 Credit Union; Angus Graeme, president of Selkirk College; Pilar Portela, CEO of i4C Innovation; and Ken Kalesnikoff with Kalesnikoff Lumber.

Collaboration

Pastrick: “Support the whole Kootenays — east and west, and the Boundary region — and allow us to do a lot more together than we can as individuals.”

Graeme: “The more ways in which we can bring employers and businesses in to the college to talk to the students, share some of the local problems, open that up to creative solutions, the better.”

Portela: “Academia, industry, non-profits coming together to solve larger issues through extreme collaboration.”

Kalesnikoff: “We [should] see people working together and figuring out a balance. We accomplish more working together.”

Nurturing Business

Pastrick: “Using local resources, including people, is associated with faster, stronger economic development.”

Graeme: “A healthy business environment plus education is a great equation. We can work together to solve problems, innovate, add value to other businesses.”

Portela: “Change happens faster today than 20 years ago. Jobs now won’t be what they are later. What do we need to still be active and affecting the economy in the future?”

Kalesnikoff: “Entrepreneurs need guidance. If the support is there … they will stay here and so will the jobs.”

Technology

Pastrick: “5G! It’s coming and it will be very necessary — install it, facilitate it.”

Graeme: “We see innovative and creative young people.”

Portela: “Industry 4.0 will be worth $3.7 trillion in value by 2025. We need technological diversification. Adopt it now, at scale, across the whole ecosystem.”

Kalesnikoff: “We have continuously invested in tech to stay competitive and flexible. We have high-tech equipment, higher skilled positions that are well paid.”

Global Thinking

Pastrick: “One challenge for the Kootenays is accessibility. I flew in through Trail and before I left Vancouver they said ‘well, there might be a fog issue. We might have to be diverted to Castlegar, or back to Vancouver.’ We need better infrastructure, better transportation options.”

Graeme: “The new generation is not as limited in their thinking. They think more globally, engage through tech. They’re already thinking of ways to bring the world here and put here out into the world.”

Portela: “We are seen as rural from within and without, seen as a resource economy only. We must be more than that.”

Kalesnikoff: “In Japan and Europe they have houses built in factories, computerized to the nth degree. They’re very well built. Housing could be more affordable if [houses here] were done that way.”

Population

Pastrick: “It’s difficult to keep young people here. There aren’t enough job opportunities for those graduating.”

Graeme: “There will be 24,000 job openings in this region when boomers are out of the workplace.”

Portela: “Immigrants create jobs and businesses.”

Kalesnikoff: “We’ve got to be engaging the youth — get through to them on how technical and rewarding our industry is — get them into these jobs.”

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