In November of last year, the British Columbia government created the Regional Entrepreneur Immigration Pilot Program, which is set to launch early this year.
The two-year program works with local regional communities with less than 75, 000 residents and is located over 30 kilometres away from a population centre of more than 75,000 people to help economic and demographic challenges due to ageing populations and younger people moving away for better opportunities.
It creates a new pathway for immigration and sends them away from bigger population centres, such as Abbotsford, Burnaby and Surrey or even Kamloops.
Williams Lake and Quesnel have already confirmed they will be taking part in the pilot project.
“Council has considered participating in the Regional Entrepreneur Immigration Pilot Program,” said Joanne Doddridge, director of economic development and planning for the 100 Mile House District. “After attending the mandatory training, staff felt that the program would entail a heavy workload up front in preparation for participating in the program; so [council] recommended delaying participation for the next intake.”
In addition to the population-related criteria, communities who partake in the pilot project must take on an active role in attracting immigrants to the community with local partners. They must also help the new entrepreneurs settle. Communities can also contact the B.C. government in order to get a community concierge to help support the newcomers with immigration.
Applicants to the program must have a minimum of the Canadian Language Benchmark 4. Other criteria a potential entrepreneur must have is a net worth of at least $300,000, post-secondary school credentials, or have had experience as an active business owner-manager for at least three of the last five years with 100 per cent ownership in the business. They must also submit a business proposal to establish in B.C. and be referred by an enrolled community.
They must also create one full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
“The district is receiving inquiries and requests for exploratory community visits. We can expect to see foreign entrepreneurs visiting our community looking for opportunities. In addition, all the other pathways to immigration through the BC Provincial Nominee Program continue to be available to the district, and no special enrollment is required,” said Doddridge.