2012 Best Communities for Business in Western Canada
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Best Community for Business in British Columbia
Kamloops is fast becoming British Columbia's unexpected leader in the data storage industry. Stretched along a narrow valley just west of the Rocky Mountains, about 350 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, the resource-rich city seems more a mining hotspot than a hub for tech companies. But significant investments in the region by Q9 and Telus Communications are beginning to change the city's reputation.
Q9 opened its six-megawatt data storage facility in April of 2010. It's currently used to store information for the B.C. government. Just next door, Telus is building a $75-million facility set to open sometime in 2013. The communications giant plans to invest $100 million in the city over a three-year period.
"Data is the new currency," says David Freeman, assistant director of the city's development and engineering department, adding that the city's location and accessibility played a major role in its ability to attract the heavy hitters.
Kamloops sits on two major rail lines and three major highways, and the city's airport recently underwent a $20-million expansion. That development, coupled with the region's low earthquake risk, has made Kamloops "a fibre optic junction," Freeman says.
But he's quick to point out other developments in the business sector. Kamloops licensed 5,512 new business permits in 2011, a slight increase of 1.7 per cent from 2010. It also increased its annual construction value in the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors by nine per cent, to $57 million in 2011.
But don't overlook Kamloops's mining industry. With two new mines, that industry is growing, too. New Gold Inc.'s New Afton copper and gold mine will begin producing in the second half of 2012 and is expected to unearth 85,000 ounces of gold, 214,000 ounces of silver and 75 million pounds of copper over the next 12 years. This development comes roughly one year after the Ajax copper and gold mine, a joint mining venture between Vancouver-based Abacus Mining and the Polish company KGHM, began production. The Ajax mine now employs upwards of 850 people.
"We've got tremendous mining development potential and longevity," says Rick Robertson, an owner of Robertson MFG, a Kamloops-based supplier of core and soil-sample boxes for the mining industry. Robertson sells 90 per cent of his products to the mining industry and says the mines will be a phenomenal boost for the local economy. Logistically speaking, he considers Kamloops one of the best-situated communities for business and says the city's entrepreneurial spirit doesn't hurt things, either. "The location counts for anyone doing business – it doesn't matter which industry," he says. Indeed, it seems every industry, from high-tech to logistics to gold mining, is booming in Kamloops these days.
|Population growth, 2001–2010 (%)||7.34|
|Average lease rate, Office ($/square foot)||n/a|
|Cost of serviced industrial land ($/acre)||$200,000|
|Household income ($)||65,512|
|Average home price ($)|
|Effective property tax for business (mill rate)||1.47|
|Wait time for development permits (days)|
(with number of employees)
|Major projects under construction
(with budget if available)
|Percentage of the people over 65||0|
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