The District of 100 Mile House is on the way to potentially getting a cotton manufacturing facility, thanks to a regional pilot program aimed at creating pathways for immigrant entrepreneurs.
Joanne Doddridge, director of economic development and planning, said the program, running for the past two years, had received a successful application from a man in Punjab, India, who is planning to start a cotton products manufacturing facility in the community. He should be arriving within the next 10 months.
“He has a year to put all of his plans together and to then come to 100 Mile with his family and start his business,” she explained.
The BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot was launched in 2019 as a way to attract entrepreneurs from around the world to set up businesses in communities with fewer than 75,000 people.
The pilot was intended to run for two years, but the District of 100 Mile House Committee of the Whole heard Tuesday evening that it would be extended for another three years, a move the committee unanimously endorsed.
Doddridge said the District had received close to 150 inquiries through the initial program, including five exploratory visits and four referrals, the majority of which were surrounding manufacturing businesses.
Across the province, the program – which involves more than 30 communities – has had more than 100 applications, with 41 of them approved by the province.
Doddridge said that on a local level, one of the challenges the district faced included a high volume of inquiries with minimal information provided.
“Some of the folks are just fishing… they don’t really have a business idea,” she said.
In order to re-enrol in the program, the district will need to take part in a mandatory training program which will allow staff to better refine its target industries, Doddridge said.
Currently, the district has highlighted education services, residential care facilities and miscellaneous manufacturing as its priority sectors.
“We wanted to cast the net pretty wide, and that’s returning some interesting results,” Doddridge said, noting that she expects to see the inquiries increase in volume as COVID-19 restrictions start to ease.