The Shuswap Economy

Home-based businesses thrive in the Shuswap

“A Moment in Time” by Chuck St. John, the stained glass wall at the Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital

One sector of the local economy that is difficult to measure, but that provides significant rewards to those involved, is the home-based business. While some of these enterprises supplement other sources of income, some provide full living wages. Products include food, health products, online training, furniture and artwork.

Continue reading

Industrial Park companies find success with unique products

There are a number of other local manufacturers where innovation has been key to their success. They are producing unique products using technologically advance processes.

The Shuswap benefited greatly when Dinoflex, , a recycled rubber manufacturing business that now sells interior and exterior surfacing products worldwide, began operations 30 years ago in the Salmon Arm Industrial Park.

Continue reading

Valid Manufacturing among Industrial Park innovators

High-tech “lights-out” equipment, like this Laser Punch combo, are key to the company’s success, given that the machines are fully automated and can be run when the lights are turned off. Photo by Jim Cooperman

The decision by Salmon Arm approximately 50 years ago to create an Industrial Park was indeed visionary, given the park is now full and there is effort underway to expand it or develop another park somewhere else. For many of the companies operating in the park, their success is due to remarkable, innovative processes and products that fulfill needs not being addressed elsewhere, as well as the expertise and ingenuity of the engineers and skilled workforce, many of whom came from the former Newnes sawmill manufacturer.

Continue reading

Shuswap’s booming high-tech sector

The USNR facility in Salmon Arm is one of nine for this company, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood processor equipment, photo by Jim Cooperman

Now, in addition to rich agricultural land, magnificent lakes, and productive forestlands we can add brainpower to the list of Shuswap resources given the remarkable growth of the local high-tech sector. Throughout this region there are over 140 technology-based companies, and within Salmon Arm there are 82 high-tech firms employing over 700 people.

Continue reading

Construction sector is a key local economic driver

Another home being built in one of Salmon Arm’s most scenic subdivisions

A true local economic driver is a sector that brings in money from outside the community, rather than a sector that either recirculates money within the community or removes it to pay for goods that come from afar. Although the retail sector likely employs the most people, the three largest economic drivers in the Shuswap are pensions and investment incomes, government jobs and construction.

Continue reading

Growing trees in the Shuswap

One of a million cedar tree seedlings in this Sorrento greenhouse grown in plugs, photo by Jim Cooperman

While the two facilities in the Shuswap that produce seeds and the three that produce tree seedlings for re-stocking forestlands only represent a small percentage of the local economy, they do play a major role in supporting the provincial forest industry. Government regulations stipulate that all logged cutblocks and much of the forestland burned in wildfires must be planted with seedlings produced from tree stock that is best suited to the site, thus there is an ever-increasing demand for seeds and seedlings.

Continue reading

Cannabis – from underground to mainstream

Cannabis production has been a fixture in the local economy for nearly four decades, although until recently the benefits were largely underground. Much like alcohol during prohibition, fortunes were made with some of the money going to create or support local businesses and hundreds of people made good wages tending plants and clipping buds for the underground market. Soon there will be three, large scale production facilities in the Shuswap producing legal cannabis for medicine, pets and recreational use.

Continue reading

How best to boost the local economy

It is a tall order. Other than by providing loan, tax, land or re-zoning incentives, it is a major challenge for local governments to improve local economies. Given that the success or failure of new and old businesses can be due to so many diverse factors, the role of governments and organizations in the equation can be elusive. Nonetheless, these efforts continue, including the recently completed Labour Market Assessment Project under the leadership of Community Futures Shuswap that had a goal to create action plans to stimulate growth in our communities.

Continue reading

Crunching the census numbers

The complete data from the 2016 census is now available and the numbers provide opportunities to better understand the Shuswap region’s economy. Overall, the Shuswap has seen very little growth when compared to the province as a whole and to the neighbouring communities. As well, our region’s population is older and less well educated, income levels are lower, and more people are unemployed. However, more recent statistics from B.C. Stats indicate the situation is improving.

Continue reading

Back to the land in the 21st century

There is a slowly growing movement back to the land, as more twenty and thirty year-olds move to the country and take up farming. I recently visited Spotted Moose Farm in the hills above Celista, where youthful energies are achieving success using alternative permaculture techniques instead of the traditional tillage system. The owners, Chris Pisesky and Sandy Whitstone, envision far more than just growing food, as they hope to create a school and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
Continue reading