While the province is abuzz with news about the economic boom on the north coast – it’s B.C.’s Peace region that stands to benefit the most from natural gas development. It’s been said that for every $1 billion invested in LNG development on the north coast, at least $4 billion will be invested in natural gas extraction in the northeast – but how will that affect communities such as Fort St. John and Taylor?
Northern Development recently chatted with Jennifer Moore, Regional Economic Development Officer for the North Peace Economic Development Commission, to find out how the northeast region can capitalize on the coming wave of investment.
Q: B.C.’s Peace region has been booming for a number of years now thanks to the development of the energy industry. In your role as the Regional Economic Development Officer at North Peace Economic Development Commission, how do you approach the day-to-day job of economic development in your region?
A: The energy sector is moving along at a fast pace, and it is only going to gain momentum into the foreseeable future. The focus of the North Peace Economic Development Commission is to ensure that the communities are going to improve economically because of the development that happens in the region.
Q: The North Peace Economic Development Commission (NPEDC) continues to contribute to growth and economic development in northern B.C., What do you think has been your organization’s most valuable achievement to date?
A: We have many notable achievements contributing to the sustainable growth of the communities in the North Peace. The greatest successes come from projects that engage our community partners to work together. Partnering with the North Peace Regional Airport and North Peace Airport Society, we were able to attract WestJet, making a total of three carriers to the region with scheduled service. This has increased scheduled flights to other communities, decreased fares and increased passenger movements through the regional airport by over 60%.
Q: The NPEDC recently hosted the Spark! Women’s Leadership Conference, May 21st in Fort St. John. How does Spark! facilitate the professional educational needs of a growing female workforce in the north?
A: Spark! Women’s Leadership Conference happened because we identified a professional development conference needed to be held closer to home. There is amazing talent in the North Peace region and nurturing that talent is important to the development of our communities from the professional sector, to the not-for-profit and volunteer sectors. The goal was to inspire leadership within every person in the room – you don’t need to have a title to be a leader.
Q: The NPEDC’s mandate is to support, foster and stimulate the North Peace region as a significant and sustainable economic driver through collaborative processes. What are the current projects that the NPEDC is working on to achieve this goal?
A: The NPEDC has three key areas of focus: transportation and infrastructure, business and industry development and marketing. We are currently working with residents and industry to identify where the investment needs to occur for our transportation infrastructure to support continued safe growth in our region. These three areas are our top priorities, both from a business and community perspective. We also rely on that intelligence to attract new business to the region. The North Peace marketing strategy must reflect current and future activity levels and strategically forecasted needs.
Q: What advice do you have for young professionals seeking rewarding careers in the Peace region?
A: The opportunities for experience and advancement in the Peace region are boundless. If you have a strong work ethic and are prepared to think differently about how to approach the challenges in your community, then this is the place for you. The biggest message I would have is, what are you waiting for?