Economic Development Profiles

Meet some of the folks working hard to promote economic development in B.C., and learn about the different roles economic developers play in supporting the local, regional and provincial economy.


Blair Gray

General Manager, Community Futures Thompson Country

Image from a Wild Fire Transition Program – Fly over of Wells Gray Park showing folks standing in front of a small airplane in a sunny field.

What is your role? How do you support economic development in your community/region? 

As General Manager I continue the Community Futures mandate of promoting Community Economic Development by assisting and supporting entrepreneurs throughout the Thompson Country region. We do this through a variety of different programs and government contracts that provide services and support to entrepreneurs, small business and communities around B.C.

What is the economic landscape in your community/region? 

The region served by Community Futures Thompson Country is diverse, as we serve the communities of Kamloops, Clearwater, Barriere, Sun Peaks, Blue River, Westwold and Chase. We are expecting the largest growth in the health and social services, retail and accommodation and food service sectors.

What are the unique economic development opportunities in your community/region?

The Thompson Country region is home to some of the best agricultural land in the province and is a prime location for new agriculture ventures, including cannabis production.  Opportunities in adventure and eco-tourism, as well as the tech sector, should also continue to increase.

What is the economic development project you are working on that excites you the most right now?

The Wildfire Business Transition Program provides hands-on support to businesses and not-for-profits affected by the wildfires in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and Thompson-Nicola regions. This program is now entering a new phase, focusing on proactive response from businesses who may be affected by future disaster. The work completed by the Community Futures network across B.C. is showing that we are well positioned to supporting businesses affected by natural disaster.


Chief Patrick Michell

Kanaka Bar Indian Band

Chief Michell receiving the 2018 BC Indigenous Business Award for Community-Owned businesses from the BC Achievement Foundation.

What is your role? How do you support economic development in your community/region? 

As the Chief Councillor of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, one of my roles, along with Council, is to set the strategic economic direction for the community. Kanaka Bar Land and Resources LP (KBLR) is the economic and business development arm of Kanaka Bar Indian Band. KBLR takes its inspiration from Kanaka Bar's Community Economic Development Plan and designs its projects and initiatives to develop a regenerative economy – an economy that resembles the culture, tradition and history of Kanaka Bar as a community.

What is the economic landscape in your community/region? 

In the absence of traditional industries (mining, forestry, oil and gas, etc.) and developers in the Fraser River canyon, KBLR acts as a developer and creates jobs and opportunities for local people in a creative manner, while respecting the land and resources within Kanaka's Traditional Territory.

What are the unique economic development opportunities in your community/region?

The economic development opportunities being created by KBLR are primarily in the areas of food production (meats, fruits and vegetables), energy production (run-of-river hydro and solar power), and the construction and maintenance of community infrastructure and assets. These opportunities provide stable, year-round employment for community members.

What is the economic development project you are working on that excites you the most right now?

Climate change presents us with an uncertain future. Our economic development project writ large is working toward community self-sufficiency and sustainability in food, energy, employment and finances – building the economy of tomorrow for the environment of tomorrow. Our ancestors did quite well here for 8,000 years; we’re not doing anything new, just carrying out the old ways in new ways.

Chief Patrick Michell was the recipient of the 2018 BC Indigenous Business Award for Community-Owned businesses from the BC Achievement Foundation.


Bridget Horel

Regional Manager, North Vancouver Island/Coast Region

A VICEDA meeting with members wearing high-vis standing outside a warehouse

What is your role? How do you support economic development in your community/region? 

I work on the Regional Economic Operations (REO) Team for the ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, working with communities on northern Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. There are 20 REO staff who support communities around B.C in their business retention and expansion, and investment attraction initiatives, developing their key sectors and providing on-the-ground support for wildfire and flood impacted communities. 

What is the economic landscape in your community/region? 

North Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast has a mix of rural, urban and remote communities. There is a diversity of sectors including forestry, fisheries, tourism, arts and culture, technology and creative industries.

What are the unique economic development opportunities in your community/region?

There is a variety of opportunities in each of the communities where I work. For some communities there is an emphasis on agriculture and seafood with the BC Seafood Expo being held in the Comox Valley. While for others there is a focus on forestry and exploring secondary manufacturing. There is a growing interesting in tech and creative industries in the region, with the City of Campbell River being a great rural example with its municipal broadband initiative. With such a varied landscape, north Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast offer a wide range of tourism opportunities like exploring caves, whale watching, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, arts and cultural tours. 

What is the economic development project you are working on that excites you the most right now?

The Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association (VICEDA) ’s Tech Attraction Strategy. Implementation of the strategy is in progress and I’m supporting that process, looking at ways to help multiple communities highlight their strengths and address challenges to build the tech ecosystem on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

This is particularly exciting because it is a collaboration of eight different communities and the project is built so that additional communities can join as they feel ready. At the same time, the Connected Coast project is underway which aims to bring new and/or improved high-speed internet accessibility to rural and remote coastal communities.


Farrell Segall

Councillor, Village of Salmo

Farrell Segall at his mobile makerspace which contains various tools and a laptop

What is your role? How do you support economic development in your community/region? 

As a newly elected Councillor in the Village of Salmo, I have taken up the portfolio of Economic Development to promote and attract business development into our village. Part of the challenge of the role is to encourage new ideas into the business community’s decision-making process and creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs to succeed. I am currently focused on advertising, creating social business connections and developing local business.

What is the economic landscape in your community/region? 

Due to the small population in the village and surrounding regional district, very few large organizations exist and public transit to nearby towns and cities is negligible. This is a priority target for future development for the village. A focus on a circular economy is important and initiatives are underway for local recycling, food security and social support. 

What are the unique economic development opportunities in your community/region?

Small niche market design, production and manufacture of products is already underway at several home-based businesses. One only has to stand by the post office daily to monitor the continuous outgoing shipments of small parcels from the community to know that local business is happening, albeit under the radar.

Tourism-focused prime events are now actively being promoted as with Shambhala, Canada Day Parade, Fall Festival, a weekly Farmer's Market, etc.

What is the economic development project you are working on that excites you the most right now?

The development of a community-opened and operated passenger bus to link Salmo with neighbouring communities and amenities. This will greatly enhance job opportunities in the region, reduce personal vehicle costs, support after-school programs and students attending college as well as providing economical connections to the airport and other long-range transit operations.


Terry Van Horn

Executive Director, Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation

Terry Van Horn standing at a podium next to Metal Tech Alley banners

What is your role? How do you support economic development in your community/region? 

I am the executive director of the regional economic development office, Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation, for the Cities of Trail and Rossland, the Villages of Warfield, Montrose and Fruitvale and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Areas A and B. Focused on business retention, expansion and attraction, the Corporation works collaboratively with the communities, local agencies, organizations and businesses in the Lower Columbia region to develop and implement strategies that will strengthen our local economy.

We focus on:

  • Helping businesses act on opportunities to expand using our network of partners and other strategies to support them in achieving their goals

  • Growing and sharing our knowledge of economic development trends, innovation and best practices

  • Attracting new investment by promoting the assets and lifestyle of communities in our region.

What is the economic landscape in your community/region? 

As a resource-based economy, the region is a hotbed of metallurgical activity: smelting and refining of zinc and lead, reclaiming metals from end-of-life electronics, producing gold, silver and a vast array of other metals; industrial recycling including lead and lithium found in dead batteries, manufacturing germanium-based optical lenses; and growing high-quality indium antimonite-based crystals.

The region is home to Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, with over 1,000 medical professionals and support staff which offers specialist, core medical and advanced diagnostic services and is a recognized medical teaching centre with a well-established Clinical Clerkship Program as well as is a site for UBC’s Rural Residency Program.

What are the unique economic development opportunities in your community/region?

The Lower Columbia is well known for recreation, from skiing at RED Mountain Resort to fishing on the Columbia River to back country experiences in the Monashee Mountains, the region attracts and retains a highly skilled, enthusiastic workforce.

What is the economic development project you are working on that excites you the most right now?

Our new game-changing marketing strategy, Metal Tech Alley. This was designed as both a marketing initiative through branding the region, and as an economic development strategy to diversify its economy. By promoting the region’s unique clustering of industrial supply, technology and recycling companies with a metallurgy focus, we are creating a network for existing local companies and a great launching point for investors. The marketing is also providing opportunities and resources for entrepreneurs to turn a creative idea into a fully-fledged business.