Comox Valley, B.C. October 1, 2019    October is Small Business Month and Comox Valley Economic Development and Tourism (CVEDS) is celebrating by hosting a series of Lunch & Learn Sessions, Professional Development Workshops, and a Tourism Industry Mini-Conference. Business owners, managers, and staff can take advantage of various educational, development, and networking opportunities, many of them free, to help them grow and thrive in the Comox Valley. The start of the month kicks off with the Business Counts Lunch & Learn Workshop Series, sponsored by the Business Development Bank of Canada. Topics including Starting a Small Business (Oct. 10), Things to Consider When Buying or Selling a Business (Oct. 17), Expanding Your Markets (Oct. 28), Food Safety Trends and Innovations (Oct. 29), E-Commerce (Oct. 31). Attendees will learn from leaders in a range of business fields to help enhance business objectives with new trends, tools and tips. These sessions are free and will be held at the Comox Valley Economic Development office in downtown Courtenay. Additional professional development workshops are happening October 21st to 23rd during the Tourism & Professional Development Week will be held at the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre, with three workshops including: “Superhost Destination Ambassador Comox Valley” is perfect for any frontline staff and is tailored specifically to the Comox Valley; the Food & Beverage Industry Workshop features speakers from BC Restaurant Foodservice Association as they discuss how to “Make Social Media Work for You”; and the sold out “Grow with Google” Program, presented by Tourism Vancouver Island. That week will culminate with the Tourism Industry Mini-Conference, October 24th, 4-7:30pm, Vancouver Island Visitor Centre. Operators, owners, frontline staff, volunteers and stakeholders will come together to learn, provide vital input into 2020 tourism and destination marketing plans, and network with sector leaders! Speakers from Tourism Vancouver Island, Mountain Bike Tourism Association, and BC Ale Trail will host informative mini-sessions. There will also be information stations presented by Destination BC, Tourism Vancouver Island, Comox Valley Airport, Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, Comox Valley Arts Council, Sid Williams Theatre, Courtenay Downtown BIA, Harbour Air Seaplanes, and North Island College Student Employment Services. The Networking BBQ & Mixer will be catered by The Pickled Carrot with tasting stations from 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery, Wayward Distillery, New Traditions Brewing Company, Ace Brewing Company, and more. For more information on these and other business development and training events, times and ticket registration, visit or call the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre 1-855-400-2882. Media Contact Lara Greasley, Manager, Marketing and Communications Comox Valley Economic Development and Tourism 250.334.2427 x 233 cell 250-702-1298
The 2018 Comox Valley Economic Development Society annual general meeting takes place Thursday, May 23, with B.C. Innovation Commissioner Alan Winter as the keynote speaker. Winter was appointed B.C.’s first Innovation Commissioner in February 2018. He has a breadth of experience at senior levels in the technology sector and in government, including such roles as the president and CEO of Genome B.C. from 2001 to 2016. The AGM will double as an Innovate 2030 Economic Development Strategy project open house. The formal portion of the AGM (elections, audit report) will take place from 3:30-4 p.m. Panel presentations and Winter’s keynote address run from 4:15-5:30, with the Innovation 2030 open house to follow. The event, at the Florence Filberg Centre (411 Anderton Ave Courtenay,) is free to attend, although registration is required. Go to to register.
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Innovation And Technology Viewed As Target Sectors To Supplement Economy

COMOX VALLEY – Careful planning has been a hallmark of Comox Valley Economic Development Society, and the results of that foresight are visible throughout the area. Almost two decades ago, CVEDS, also known as Invest Comox Valley, identified agriculture and aquaculture as huge opportunities for economic development. Fast-forward to today, and the Comox Valley is dotted with new land and water-based food growing operations. Innovate 2030 is the moniker for an update for their current five-year economic development strategy, a guiding master plan that will inform policy, develop clear actions and outcomes for sustainable economic growth, and suggest key strategies and business case examples for major projects over the next decade. This time, the future focus will be on community economic development, agri-food/seafood, and technology and innovation. “This new strategy is intended to serve as a unifying plan, spurring action to support a sustainable and growing economy through innovation and technology,” says Invest Comox Valley CEO John Watson. “Emerging technologies, such as automation, digitization, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are now shaping and impacting local economic development opportunities and businesses across all sectors. “When combining these disruptive technologies, together with environmental challenges and constraints, and the changing trade environment, it is clear that a new, longer term approach to economic development is required to keep pace in planning and promoting the Comox Valley.” An Innovate 2030 Advisory Committee, comprised of leading companies and industry associations representing a wide range of sectors and small businesses, are working towards a document that will become the guidelines to help drive long‐term technology and innovation initiatives within the community. It will also include Community Economic Development and Agrifood/Seafood Sector Innovation strategies, but the focus on technology and innovation will be intensified. The Innovate 2030 Advisory Committee is co‐Chaired by Deana Simkin, CVEDS Board and Executive, owner of High Tide Public House; Lara Austin, Investment Advisor, RBC Dominion Securities. The process has included numerous information and input gathering sessions, business surveys and open houses, a January 23-25 Forum, and the final update is due May 23. “We approached it a little bit differently this time,” says CVEDS President Justin Rigsby. “We sought out people from the local business community that wanted to be part of an advisory group, and we have around 30 members now. “Obviously we’ve been pretty successful around aquaculture, particularly with the BC Seafood Festival, where we introduce our producers to buyers from throughout the world,” he says, adding that with a technology/innovation focus, they’ll be reaching out to organizations like Innovation Island, and others. Rigsby noted that there is still plenty of room to growth in the agri-food sector, as recent studies showed that Comox Valley agri-food producers yield about $850 per acre in terms of economic activity. “The Fraser Valley is something like $17,000 per acre, so we target that,” he says. Why focus on Technology and Innovation? Based on the Comox Valley’s Employment and Industrial Lands‐based Foreign Direct Investment Strategy completed in 2016, the technology sector was identified as a strong opportunity for growth in the region. The BC Government has identified technology as one of the fastest growing sectors in the province. The most recent BC Stats profile of the sector shows the immense and growing impact it is having on BC's job growth and GDP. While much of the growth in the technology sector has been in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, there are 1,481 technology businesses on Vancouver Island (15% of the provincial total) and 96 in the Comox Valley, according to the BC Technology Strategy (2016). The overarching goal is to attract and support technology initiatives within the Comox Valley while assessing the impact on key areas of growth. Nodes in the Comox Valley The Comox Valley was named a pilot community for the new Export Navigator Program through the province and Small Business BC, as a result of the area’s strong exporting companies. The pilot provides new, streamlined export services designed to help and support business growth through exporting, and for those that are already exporting. There have been a number of beneficiaries of the pilot program, including Mac’s Oysters and Wayward Distillation House. Mac’s Oysters are known worldwide, thanks to an increased emphasis on exporting the company’s products, which are sold under several name brands – named depending on the method used to grow the oysters and the body of water where they are harvested. Wayward produces True Craft Unruly Gin, Unruly Vodka and other spirits that are honey-based, with vodka infusions. It is the first distillery in Canada using honey as the base for all of its spirits. The company’s website states: “Our signature Unruly Vodka and Unruly Gin are beautiful, hand-crafted examples of what can happen when unruly people meet unruly bees. Couple this with our seasonally changing, ultra-small batch experimental Wayward Order Line and you will truly understand our need to break moulds and blaze trails. CVEDS has also developed a new Export Products Catalogue to assist companies in their pursuit of new customers and exploring new markets and international trade. Development Nodes For those looking for opportunities within the Comox Valley, CVEDS has developed a new BizMap (available through that shows exactly where development opportunities are available. This tool has proven to be effective, as important information was ready when Anandia Laboratories was exploring options to build their new Cannabis Innovation Centre outside the very expensive lower mainland. The Town of Comox had land rezoned near the Comox Valley Airport years ago and added “cannabis” to its zoning allowances, and it was a perfect fit. Other land is available near the Comox Valley Airport for development as well. In the southern area of the Comox Valley, Union Bay Estates (formerly known as Kensington Island Properties), is a new 346-hectare real estate development development overlooking Denman Island. Along with a new marina, shopping and restaurants, Union Bay Estates will be home to a new community of condominium, townhome and single-family neighbourhoods. The project involves development of mixed commercial, multi-family and single-family residential and affordable housing for a total of 2,949 new residential units. The project will be built in phases over 10-15 years, including redeveloping the Union Bay beachfront and adding two hotels and a marina. There is always something happening at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort, where new owners, Utah-based Pacific Group Resorts Inc. purchased the ski area, which has served Vancouver Island skiers since 1979. To the north, Saratoga Beach Estates is a 76.6 acre residential development 25 minutes north from Courtenay near Black Creek, on the only large parcel of land that is not in the agricultural reserve. The first phase is approved for a 143 lot subdivision on 35 acres of land, and all of the underground services are now in place. Current zoning is for 1-2 acre residential lots, although plans include higher density residential in later phases. These projects illustrate the fact that, just as the forecasting planning for the future aims at diversification, development in the Comox Valley is spread out throughout the area.
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Thursday, September 20, 2018 COURTENAY – A new project led by the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) will receive $30,000 in funding from the Island Coastal Economic Trust to support the development of an agri-food innovation strategy for the Comox Valley. Technology is changing how almost every industry operates, however Canadian food producers have fallen behind their competitors in the global agri-foods sector. As a leading agri-food and culinary region, the Comox Valley has the potential to fully embrace and provide long-term support for agri-food innovation. “Changes in purchasing patterns, e-commerce and technologies like robotics and autonomous vehicles are just a few of the examples which could impact the nature and the labour force of the agriculture and agri-food industry,” said Mayor Josie Osborne, ICET Chair. “There is tremendous potential for communities in our region to be at the forefront of innovation ensuring that we get the highest possible value for our primary products.” The project, a comprehensive Agriculture Sector, Agri-food and Seafood Innovation Strategy, will be a key component of the five-year Comox Valley Regional Economic Development Plan. “The strategy will consider potential growth areas for future and long-term agri-business development, ag-based infrastructure and inputs required for future growth, ag-tech and emerging innovations and trends in digitization, automation, production supply chains, e-commerce and direct to consumer demand,” stated John Watson CVEDS Executive Director. Funding for the project is provided through the Sectoral Development Strategies funding stream of the Economic Development Readiness Program.  Up to $30,000 in matching funding is available for targeted sectoral strategies, bringing together stakeholders to develop plans to support new investment, increase productivity and grow business opportunities. “CVEDS has collaborated extensively with the region’s agricultural stakeholders for many years, in the expansion and support of this important sector,” said Justin Rigsby CVEDS Board President.  “Stakeholders will be invited to engage in this project to bring industry-led understanding of the longer trends in agriculture development, how future agri-businesses and ag-tech start-ups can enhance and create new sustainable opportunities for growth and investment in the Comox Valley.” The project is expected to begin in early fall, with completion anticipated by March 2019. About the Island Coastal Economic Trust Created and capitalized by the Province of BC, the Island Coastal Economic Trust has been at the forefront of economic diversification, planning and regional revitalization for the past twelve years. ICET is independently governed by a Board of Directors and two Regional Advisory Committees which include more than 50 locally elected officials, MLAs and appointees from the Island and Coast. This exceptional team of leaders collaborate to set regional priorities and build vital multi-regional networks. Through a community centered decision-making process, ICET has approved almost $50 million in funding for over 180 economic infrastructure and economic development readiness projects.  These investments have leveraged over $270 million in new investment into the region creating more than 2500 construction phase jobs and 2600 long term permanent jobs. A full overview of ICET can be found at -end- For further information: Line Robert, CEO Island Coastal Economic Trust Tel. 250-871-7797 (Ext. 227) Mayor Josie Osborne, ICET Chair District of Tofino Tel. 250-725-3229 John Watson, Executive Director Comox Valley Economic Development Society Tel. 250-792-0375
In order to continue to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural regions get their goods and services to new international and interprovincial markets, the Government of British Columbia has extended the Export Navigator pilot program for another year. Read more here:
Visiting Media And Chef On SF Wharf Tour
For immediate release Comox Valley, BC: After a busy tourist season, Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism (CVEDS) has collated exciting trends and outputs that have resulted from efforts and projects undertaken since the spring across key areas including small business support, destination marketing and visitor services. The 2017 BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, held in June, demonstrated unprecedented growth across all facets, establishing itself as western Canada’s largest seafood Festival. The Festival expanded from 45 events in 2016 to over 70 events & tours in 2017, boasting 45 BC and international chefs that participated. CVEDS secured more than $200k in leveraged dollars to support marketing and event development and saw notable increases across all key performance marketing indicators including 75% increase year over year clicks to the Festival microsite, 78% increase in online contest entries, 12%+ increase in calls to the Visitor Centre, $1M in earned media coverage and a 19% increase in Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT, formerly known as the Additional Room Hotel Tax). Visitor numbers at the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre, located on the Comox Valley Parkway, continue to grow with true visitor numbers increasing by 14% and over $46k in tour and event online bookings occurring via its booking engine since the start of the year. In August alone the Centre saw over 5000 visitors, having welcomed over 170k visitors through its doors since opening in early 2012. Moving into the fall, with October being Small Business Month over 17 events and workshops are being held via CVEDS’ “Business Counts Workshop Series” with a range of partners including Small Business BC, Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of International Trade, Innovation Island Technology Association, Certified Organic Association of BC, Small Scale Food Processors of BC, the Comox BIA and MNP. The sessions reflect focus areas that are outlined in CVEDS 2017 Strategic Plan from tech, tourism, agrifood, and exporting, to small business enhancement. Supporting regional businesses who are exporting continues to be a focus for CVEDS which has recently been renewed for an additional 6 month term as an Export Navigator Community. This is a partnership with the Ministry of International Trade, Small Business BC, and 5 other BC communities to support connecting participating businesses to key market information, export programs, financial services, and business development experts. To review CVEDS 2017 Strategic Plan and for more information on these and other initiatives visit Download this press release
Media Inquiries: Lara Greasley, Manager, Marketing and Communications E: C: 250-702-1298
Graham Truax
For immediate release – October 11, 2017 Comox Valley, BC: The myriad of Smartphone Apps or cloud-services that run aspects of many offices, retail business, shop floor or even family farm technology is becoming ever more pervasive. If you are a builder, user, reseller or advocate of the tech sector, you are part of this exciting ecosystem. The upcoming Tech Talk and ReThink Series will explore the not so secret “code” to harnessing industry best practices that will help you and your business grow. Presented by Graham Truax, Executive in Residence, Innovation Island, with the support of Comox Valley Economic Development (CVEDS), the series kicks-off on October 18, 2 pm, North Island College Stan Hagen Theatre. This open talk and discussion will delve into how the last 20+ years of tech development will be dwarfed by what’s coming in the next 5 or 10 and explore how the Comox Valley can better position itself and benefit. “Over the past few years I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work closely with many successful tech Startups throughout our region. However, when it comes to our workshop series I’m equally excited with how dozens of more ‘non-tech’ entrepreneurs are applying tech-based principles to their businesses and projects,” said Truax, “Technology touches everything and it moves extremely fast – with or without any of us. This ReThink Series provides a vehicle for businesses to harness information and help integrate it in their own day-to-day activities and longer-term planning objectives.” The Service Agreement between Innovation Island and CVEDS includes hosting annual events of this nature to support Comox Valley business enhancement toward hiring of employees, renting shop or office space, and creating a sustainable economic base from which they can scale further. Local decision makers and influencers are encouraged to attend the free kick-off Tech Talk on October 18th to provide input and ideas into how to support Tech innovation at the business, regional and provincial level, and to register for one or all of the ReThink Series sessions which commence October 19 and run into February 2018. Topics include:   To register online or FMI about this and other Business Counts Workshop events hosted by CVEDS visit   Media Inquiries: Lara Greasley, Manager, Marketing and Communications E: C: 250-702-1298
Download press release here
The Province is helping more small business owners and entrepreneurs develop export capacity and gain access to new markets by extending the Export Navigator pilot for another six months.
Read the rest of the news release here.
Fall Business Counts Workshop Series
Graham Truax
For Immediate Release – September 8, 2017 - revised   A robust program designed to support small businesses in the Comox Valley Comox Valley:    The Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) is pleased to announce its annual fall Business Counts Workshop Series which will present a range of leading speakers and timely small business subject matter to assist Comox Valley business owners and managers with business enhancement and professional development. “Existing business are the primary source of new investment and employment growth, providing more than 80% of job growth in a typical community,” said Geoff Crawford, Business Development Manager, CVEDS, ‘By collaborating with a variety of agencies and speakers, the Business Counts Workshop Series offers informative opportunities to support small businesses in the Comox Valley to help them address challenges and opportunities.’ The fall workshops range from exploring exporting opportunities, to business planning for growing businesses, from customer development methodologies, to tourism industry product development and much more. The current list of workshops and seminars is growing and include: Additional related online webinars include the Small Business BC Webinar Series: The range of partners collaborating with CVEDS on the series includes Innovation Island Technology Association, Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, Small Business BC, Comox & Courtenay BIA’s, Small Scale Food Processors of BC, Certified Organic Association of BC, Province of BC, and MNP. FMI visit to review the entire list of upcoming Business Counts workshops and events, as well as to access in-depth business resources and regional economic statistics.
Media Contact: Lara Greasley, Manager, Marketing and Communications Comox Valley Economic Development and Tourism 250.334.2427 x 233 or
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