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Startup Businesses are Finding Happy Homes in Prince George

Young entrepreneurs are finding Prince George to be the ideal location to turn their business dreams into reality

Once a city dependent on forestry, Prince George is being recognized for its growing products and services sector, as well as becoming arguably one of the hottest technology centres in North America. “We are the small but growing Silicon Valley of the North,” says Will Cadell, CEO and geospatial web director at Sparkgeo, a company building cutting-edge geospatial technology for companies across the globe.

There is a consensus in business that qualities such as affordability, availability of a talented labour pool, the existence of a thriving business community and quality of life factor into where to locate a startup: Prince George has all of those attributes and more.

Compared to other cities in B.C., it is relatively inexpensive to start and run a business in the Prince George region. Moreover, “we are in the same time zone as Silicon Valley and the access to talent from the University of Northern B.C. (UNBC) is tremendous,” adds Cadell, who moved to Prince George because of the great lifestyle it offered him.

According to statistics, its economy is growing at nearly double the rate of the rest of the province. Add to that a low cost of living and higher than average incomes, and this makes Prince George extremely appealing for young startup companies, believes Bryan Lockhart, general manager, Winton Homes Ltd.

“We are seeing growth pick up momentum,” adds Lockhart. “We have a new courthouse, a new RCMP building and we have UNBC’s award-winning Wood Innovation and Design Centre. There’s a growing confidence here and we are seen more and more as a central hub of B.C.”

Geographically, Prince George has the wherewithal to become the province’s startup city. As Lockhart points out, it has high-quality land, relatively low startup costs, an availability of skilled labour and excellent connectivity. It also has nearly 10,000 students based at its two prestigious post-secondary institutions—The College of New Caledonia (CNC) and UNBC, which ranked second-best small university in Canada.

Furthermore, Innovation Central Society was founded three years ago to help support technology entrepreneurs in starting and growing successful companies.

“Once a month, about 30 of us come together for Innovation Central Society’s Startup PG Drinks meetings to liaise and bounce ideas off each other,” adds Lockhart, whose company’s engineered wood division provides structural components for major projects in Northern B.C. and Alberta.

It seems that Prince George has many of the characteristics that successful entrepreneurs need: pride, passion, determination and drive.


Photo by Tourism Prince George