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Taking Care of Business

“Few communities in North America can say they’re in the middle of a $4-billion infrastructure investment,” says City of Coquitlam’s economic development manager David Munro. “But between the Evergreen Line SkyTrain project and improvements to Highway 1 and the Port Mann Bridge, Coquitlam can.”
Indeed, Coquitlam is one of the fastest-growing communities in B.C. It’s already the province’s sixth-largest municipality, and its population is expected to increase by 60 per cent over the next 20 years. In Coquitlam, the buzzword is definitely “momentum”.
Coquitlam businesses have long enjoyed the advantage of a strategically central location within the Lower Mainland, with convenient road access to downtown Vancouver and an industrial corridor that parallels Highway 1. But the long-awaited Evergreen Line–slated to open in summer of 2016–will connect Coquitlam to Vancouver via Port Moody and Burnaby.
The city’s labour force is already 69,000 strong and highly educated, with more than 65 per cent having a post-secondary education. “Now, businesses locating along the Evergreen Line will have access to the regional labour force as well, thanks to a variety of commuting options,” says Munro.
The new Evergreen Line offers great growth potential for Coquitlam, and City Council initiated a policy to maximize development opportunities. “We needed an overarching policy to allow for development along the Evergreen Line corridor and promote growth around the stations,” explains Munro. “And we wanted to act fast so as not to miss out on development opportunities.” The result is the City’s Transit-Oriented Development Strategy, which is spurring mixed-use and office space development within 800 metres of each of Coquitlam’s four new SkyTrain stations.
Other business-friendly initiatives undertaken by the City include a committee to remove outdated City policies, and the updating and streamlining of various City bylaws. For example, the new Tri Cities Intermunicipal Business Licence program encourages business expansion by allowing businesses to purchase a licence in Coquitlam and, for an extra fee, licences for Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, as well. The City also established a tourism program this year to promote Coquitlam’s tourism assets.
QNet is yet another advantage for businesses looking to locate in Coquitlam. The 60-kilometre-fibre-optic network provides local businesses with reliable, low-cost, high-speed Internet service. And although it’s been especially attractive to the city’s growing technology sector, the City’s state-of-the-art network is a real asset for health-care providers, professional services firms, film companies and corporate head offices of all kinds.
“These are just a handful of the many ways in which the City is proactively encouraging business growth,” says Munro. “The City’s view is to really create a business-friendly environment–we want to make this the easiest place to do business.”
The City’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. In fact, Coquitlam was one of just seven communities to be honoured with the B.C. Small Business Roundtable’s Open for Business Award in 2013. The award recognizes proactive communities for creating an environment that fosters business growth and success–a feat that Coquitlam has accomplished.