Northern BC is expected to enjoy more than $60 billion in capital investment in the coming years, but small and medium-sized contractors and suppliers might not yet have the tools they need to cash in on the tidal wave of capital that will hit the region.
Last month, Northern Development Initiative Trust delivered its first contractor-supplier boot camp. The event was held at the Heritage Centre in Burns Lake, where the Village of Burns Lake, the Burns Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako joined forces to attract participants from across northern B.C. who were keen to hear how they could capitalize on major projects coming their way.
“With the amount of industry kicking off in the north, we want to play in those markets and have a better understanding of what is required from a small businessman to do business with these multi-billion dollar companies,” explained Chuck Holyk, sales manager at Net-Zero Structures Ltd. in Smithers. The two-man company was established earlier this year to focus on manufacturing energy-efficient buildings for residential, commercial and industrial sectors.
Dozens of major capital investments such as mines, pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals, clean energy projects and construction and shipping investments are planned or underway across northern BC. Many of the major corporations behind those projects are in need of local suppliers and have policies that require local purchasing for major projects. Still, they often struggle to find local companies that can do the work, said Renata King, director, business development at Northern Development.
She said the boot camp is an important initiative that will help bridge the gap between major industry and local contractors and suppliers. “The challenge now is that the contractor and supplier companies aren’t quite ready,” said King, who designed and delivered the boot camp in Burns Lake last month. “There’s a lot of business requirements and certifications that have to be in place in order for a company even to be considered to be on a preferred supplier list. Our intent is to raise the awareness of what those requirements are, and also provide them resources to help them get those certifications.”
Holyk found the boot camp very useful for Net-Zero.
King said the business community has provided a lot of positive feedback about the program already. Northern Development hopes to further refine the boot camp in the coming weeks, and enable regional economic development officers to eventually deliver workshops in communities across northern BC.
The development of a regional supplier database to help major industry locate local contractors and suppliers is also in the works, and an industry group has come together to determine the requisite business information the database needs to best serve the business community in northern BC. “We’re on the right track,” said King. “It’s encouraging to think that businesses are ready to take action, and, with the right guidance, they’re going to go down the right path.”
Northern Development Initiative Trust
About Northern Development
Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent regional economic development corporation focused on stimulating economic growth and job creation in central and northern British Columbia.
- To date, $110.4 million in funding has been committed to 1,000 projects in communities throughout central and northern British Columbia.
- 5,154 jobs have been created.
- Funding has been partnered with 1,778 organizations, attracting over $1 billion in new investment to the region.
- 74% of investments are in small communities with populations less than 5,000.
- $198.8 million has been invested in new capital and employee training by supported companies.
- Over 2,979 grant writers have been trained to date, 274 hired by communities including 124 by First Nations since 2007.
For information on Northern Development and the community economic development projects being led in communities throughout central and northern British Columbia, visit: http://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/.