INVESTMENT & INNOVATION As investment in northern B.C. grows, the Cariboo is getting ready to meet industry needs
Share of B.C. land area
■100 Mile House ■Barkerville ■Mackenzie ■McBride ■Prince George ■Quesnel ■Valemount ■Wells ■Williams Lake
British Columbia’s Wood
Innovation and Design Centre, home to the University of Northern British Columbia’s new Master of Engineering in integrated wood design, is one of several modern projects completed or proposed for the city of Prince George | CITY OF PRINCE GEORGE
ith $9.6 billion in major capital projects proposed for the region, the Cariboo economy is gearing up for investment, and innovation. Covering over 130,000 square kilometres of forests and mineral-rich land between the Coast mountain range and Alberta, the Cariboo leads British Columbia in employment growth, with the highest rate of job creation across the province’s eight development regions. Some 3,700 new jobs were welcomed in 2014, and of the 58,000 job openings expected in B.C.’s north by 2024, nearly half are forecasted for the Cariboo, according to WorkBC’s 2024 Labour Market Outlook. At the centre of it all is Prince George: the Cariboo’s largest city with a 50,400-person workforce. Located at the intersection of highways that connect Prince Rupert to Edmonton and Dawson Creek to Kamloops, the city is the terminus of the $440 million Cariboo Connector expansion project, expected to complete in 2018.
“When you look at the major development regions across B.C. and all of the projects that are planned and proposed across the province, over 70 per cent of those projects are taking place in the Interior and northern B.C.,” says Melissa Barcellos, manager of economic development for the City of Prince George. “Prince George is right in the middle of that. So I expect that our local supply and service companies will continue to benefit in terms of all of this development, and that will have a significant impact on Prince George’s economy.” It already has. Barcellos says the city has seen over $250 million in building permits since 2012, which is nearly double the investment of the previous 11 years. These include a brand-new technologically advanced and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design)-certified BC Government and Service Employees’ Union building that opened in the city core last fall. Upcoming in Prince George is a $40 million proposed hotel development, and a 243-room Pomeroy Hotel on