100 years of forestry history and primary employment ended in Canal Flats in 2015 with closure of its sawmill. The rural challenge is how to re-invent a new economic future. Cue the 2017 launch of the Columbia Lake Technology Center (CLTC) with its “Sawmills to Silicon” initiative that has attracted worldwide attention for its innovation and leadership. Iris Energy, located at the CLTC, is at the leading edge of next generation modular data centre design, manufacture, and operation that enables digital currency mining, artificial intelligence, edge computing, virtual reality, and blockchain advancement at the heart of future economic productivity and competitiveness in all economic sectors. From this heartbeat, the tech sector in Columbia Valley is on the grow.
Columbia Valley Opportunity
One can think of the tech opportunity in Columbia Valley as a see-saw.
There’s desire to grow an industry sector in Columbia Valley….a fresh and dynamic sector that can capitalize on a lifestyle living competitive advantage in the valley while also transitioning beyond resource extraction traditions. Given the technology sector is most adept at decentralized enterprise and workforce, the sector offers real opportunity to nurture a self-sustaining, more permanently resident valley population with all its benefits to social connection and economic prosperity. This opportunity is underscored by a pandemic that has accelerated corporate and workforce shift to online spaces and remote work. Both the resident population AND recreational property owners – comprising 50% of residential ownership in the valley – will have much to say about what this path looks like in terms of strengths and opportunities to step into.
On the other side of the see-saw is resident and business technology capability – which can align workforce skill with technology sector opportunity, and enhance business success. “Talent” is the fuel a local technology industry will need to grow and sustain itself. Well that and advanced broadband (gigabit fibre/5G), which is an active initiative in the Valley.
Most broadly, the use of technology is as an enabler for all industry sectors – including forestry and tourism that lead Columbia Valley’s economy. The global economy is transitioning to “Industry 4.0” – defined as automation, advanced connectivity, artificial intelligence or robotics so as to fully perform mechanical tasks or analysis previously done by people. This is creating disruptive economic and workforce demand change. Columbia Valley and BC will need to participate to stay competitive.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Software, cloud computing, information technology, telecommunications, electronics manufacturing
Pharmaceuticals, medical devices, research, testing platforms
Interactive and Digital Media
Mobile apps, social media marketing, augmented and virtual reality, film/video games/digital animation.
Alternative energy generation, storage, environmental remediation, resource management systems.
Companies specializing in information technology, engineering, and environmental services.