A spike in industrial interest in the region has resulted in an expansion of this year’s National Aboriginal Business Opportunities Conference.
“This is the fourth year we’ve held the conference in Prince Rupert and, because of the massive interest in the region, demand has gone up enormously. Normally by this time we are 60 per cent sold out, but this year we are already 90 per cent sold out,” explained organizer Geoff Greenwell of the 2G Group.
“This year we are going to expand to the civic centre to allow up to 400 delegates, whereas in years past we have had to cap it at 280 … we have 275 registrations sold and the rest will easily be gone by the end of February.”
Delegates already registered come from around the world, with more nations expected to attend.
“We have people from all over the world registering because of the interest in Prince Rupert and port activity. We have delegates now from China, Russia, India and other Asian countries as well as major North American companies that are looking to Prince Rupert,” said Greenwell of the April 29-30 event.
“It is the most diverse group of delegates, globally, to ever come to Prince Rupert and that speaks to the level of interest in the region.”
In addition to the number of people attending, Greenwell said the conference will now take the extra step of trying to match industry with workers.
“Simultaneously with the conference we will be running a career fair. It seems to make sense because a lot of the businesses attending will be looking to hire skilled labour and workers, whether aboriginal or not,” he said.
“We will have approximately 150 companies in attendance and they will be looking to hire for projects locally or regionally … we’re hoping to see a lot of people come through the door because there will be no charge for the job fair.”
The conference comes at the same time as Greenwell said the 2G Group is buying up commercial property for future office space and possible development in Prince Rupert.
“We’re investing heavily because we recognize that Prince Rupert is going to grow and people need to be ready for it,” he said.
“It’s good to see the region booming and I think it’s only going to get better.”