Comox Valley, British Columbia:    With the transition to Phase III of BC’s Restart Plan, the Comox Valley Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF) is pleased to see the steady return of BC residents visiting the Comox Valley, safely. Phase III permits BC residents to take part in smart, safe and respectful travel within B.C., noting the cautions taken at home need to be applied when travelling. “The Comox Valley looks forward to continuing to welcome visitors back to explore and enjoy the area responsibly,” said Hegus (Chief) Nicole Rempel, Co-Chair of the ERTF, adding “Tourism is critical to our region’s economy and small businesses, as is the safety and well-being of our residents. Together with our operators, Comox Valley businesses have responded with safety measures and protocols to ensure their staff, guests, visitors and clients can all enjoy the attractions and services of the area.” Maintaining a healthy status in the Comox Valley this summer is as simple as remembering Dr. Bonnie Henry's rules: “I have been really impressed with the social distancing and safety protocols I’ve seen implemented in businesses throughout the Comox Valley, in anticipation of the return of visitors and local customers. While our region has seen steady growth in international visitors over the years, the Comox Valley still relies heavily on BC residents. We are well positioned to welcome them safely this summer,” said Mayor Bob Wells, City of Courtenay and Co-Chair of the ERTF. As everyone heads out to enjoy the Comox Valley’s incredible range of things to do, including the new ZipTour at Mount Washington Alpine Resort or perhaps a Marine Wildlife or Culinary Tour, be sure to follow Dr. Henry's other rules: Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe. For information on the Comox Valley’s Know Before You Go messaging to visitors, which includes guidelines from Indigenous Tourism BC, Destination BC and the BC Government’s Guidelines for BC Travel, visit   -30-   Media Contacts: Hegus (Chief) Councillor Nicole Rempel, K’ómoks First Nation Phone: 250-339-4545 Email: Mayor Bob Wells, City of Courtenay, ERTF Co-Chair Phone: 250-334-4441 Email:   Background: The CVRD initiated the established ERTF to develop and direct implementation of an Economic Development Recovery Plan to mitigate the potential economic impact to local businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about the establishment of the ERTF and the TAC can be found on
Comox Valley, BC:    To encourage business start-up and growth in Comox Valley, entrepreneurs now have access to in-depth market information about their local neighbourhoods, thanks to a new partnership between Small Business BC and Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism (CVEDS). Bizmap is an interactive, online research tool that provides users with key market insights on neighbourhoods across Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Users can find data on area demographics, business types, building information, neighbourhood history and area activities — all at the local level. As BC’s Restart Plan takes effect, this service will provide important market research that supports economic growth, recovery and resiliency for Comox Valley small businesses. “Whether you’re starting a new business, or expanding an existing one, having a thorough understanding of your customer base is invaluable,” says Tom Conway, CEO of Small Business BC. “If you know who you’re serving, Bizmap will help you find your customers and choose the best place to locate your business.” The new, enhanced Bizmap website was launched in Vancouver in 2018 in partnership with the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Business Improvement Associations. Bizmap is now proud to expand outside Vancouver for the first time, bringing critical data to Comox Valley business owners. “We are proud to have collaborated with Small Business BC and the Downtown Courtenay and Comox BIA's to become the first region outside of Vancouver to develop these investment area profiles for the downtown areas. These are powerful tools, not only to support existing businesses with robust data and information, while also supporting potential investors in analyzing and comparing key market data to make key business decisions,” said Geoff Crawford, Manager, Business Development. “While advice, education and resources are always available for entrepreneurs through Small Business BC and CVEDS, we’re extremely pleased that we’re able to support Comox Valley businesses and potential investors with this very localized market information, thanks to our partnership with CVEDS,” says Tom Conway, CEO of Small Business BC. The downtown Courtenay and downtown Bizmaps are available at and   Media Contacts Small Business BC Felix Trash Marketing Coordinator Special Projects, Small Business BC Direct: 604-718-5450 Geoff Crawford Manager, Economic Development, Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism Cell: 250-792-2197   About Small Business BC Small Business BC is here to help British Columbia's entrepreneurs grow successful and sustainable businesses through expert business advisors, educational services and easy-to-use free tools. For anyone who's a business owner, or thinking of starting a new business, they’re here to help. About Bizmap Bizmap is a collaboration between Small Business BC and Comox Valley Economic Development. Bizmap provides easy access to market data tailored to customized business districts. Presented in a clear and relatable way, the area-specific information will help local businesses and communities to grow. About Comox Valley Economic Development The Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism office was formed in 1988 and is a non-profit society with annual funding from the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, and the Comox Valley Regional District areas A, B and C. Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism assists companies and entrepreneurs access key services and resources, and act as a catalyst for economic growth in the region. Its Mission is to encourage responsible expansion of the economic base of the Comox Valley with the intent of enhancing wealth and employment opportunities.
Helen Austin At Land And Sea Brewing
Comox Valley Craft Brewery Virtual Happy Hour Series Continues Comox Valley, BC - Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism (CVEDS), in collaboration with local craft breweries and the BC Ale Trail, are promoting a 'buy local campaign’ to support increased awareness about the current modified services of the craft brewers and encourage residents to show their support for local producers. The ‘Wish You Were Beer Comox Valley Craft Brewery Virtual Happy Hour Series’ was established in response to COVID-19, to encourage locals to pick up or order their favourite local craft beer, and in doing so, customers are provided with an All-Access Pass to the Virtual Happy Hour events featuring well-known Comox Valley musicians. The concept arose as a result of the CVEDS investment in BC Ale Trail initiatives aimed at highlighting area craft brewers and the Comox Valley as a culinary destination. Due to COVID-19, a number of tactics planned for this past March and April were postponed or cancelled. As such, together with the BC Ale Trail and the participating brewers and businesses, CVEDS repurposed some of those funds to create a Virtual Happy Hour Series featuring: Other supporting businesses have jumped in to sponsor the series in the hopes it encourages more support of local producers including DeLucaVeale Investment Counsel, RealStream Income Properties, Ivan Lee TD Wealth, Hollis Wealth, and Mindset Wealth. “The financial advisors and partners that are sponsoring are proud to play a part in this wonderful initiative to showcase the talent we have in the Valley. We encourage everyone to join the Virtual Happy Hour and support the breweries, businesses and restaurants we all love,” said Robert Mulrooney, Mindset Wealth. For a full schedule of events and details about how to get an “All-Access Pass” please visit   -30-   Media Contacts: Lara Greasley, Marketing and Communications Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism
We are saddened to have to announce that the BC Seafood Festival and Trade Expo, originally scheduled June 12-21, 2020, will be postponed due to COVID-19 and the important government measures in place. The BC Seafood Festival and Trade Expo success is built around the coming together of BC seafood industries, commercial fisheries, aquaculture, suppliers, distributors, industry leaders and government representatives, first nations, dive and harvest sectors, alongside BC Chefs, and importantly the guests and attendees who travel from around the world to attend and participate. In order to ensure the safety of all our partners, staff and event producers, volunteers and guests, we know this is the right decision. We are actively working to secure late fall dates to host a modified Festival and Trade Expo in 2020, while also planning for the return of the Festival and Trade Expo once again for the regularly scheduled dates of June 11 – 20, 2021. Stay tuned and sign-up for Friends of the Festival notifications to be the first to know about new dates, contests and ticket releases. For those that have already purchased tickets and/or Trade Show booths and passes, an email will be sent to you shortly in regards next steps. Kindly wait for that email before contacting the Festival and Trade Expo; our thanks in advance for your patience. Please consider supporting your local BC seafood producers when you can. Look for their products online and in local groceries stores. Stay tuned for news about companies that are open for delivery and a list of local retail stores that carry BC Seafood. We know this is an incredibly difficult time for everyone in the seafood, tourism and hospitality sectors that contribute so much to the Festival and Trade Expo each year. Our thoughts are with them, our loyal guests, volunteers and all their families.
British Columbia is a many splendoured place—that’s why we live here after all! We’re spoiled with snowcapped mountains, beautiful beaches, verdant forests, crystal-clear lakes and rivers, bountiful oceans, amazing food and drink, warm summers and mild winters. Yeah, it rains a bit, but that’s what the Gore-Tex is for. In some lucky corners of the province—like the pocket of paradise that is the Comox Valley—you can even experience it all within a 30-minute drive. Kayaking, snowboarding and mountain biking, all in the same day, if you’re so inclined. But what truly sets the Comox Valley apart as a vacation destination is the wealth of quality food and drink options. Three distinct communities make up the Comox Valley—Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland—each with their own personality and offerings. The valley’s shared agricultural history has given rise to a healthy local food culture. Eating and drinking local is a way of life here—whether its wine from local wineries like 40 Knots or Beaufort, award-winning cheeses from local dairies like Natural Pastures, fresh produce from the many roadside farm stalls like Sieffert’s Farm Market, or beer from any of the many local craft breweries. Speaking of beer, the past year has seen three new craft breweries open in the Comox Valley, along with new craft beer-focused taprooms and restaurants, creating a craft beer mecca almost overnight. It’s just another reason to put this part of Vancouver Island on the top of your B.C. craft beer road trip list.
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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
Research shows the Comox Valley is attracting the best and brightest from all over. From professionals who work remotely for startups and large corporations, to consultants, entrepreneurs, to locals just starting out.
COMOX VALLEY – Lifestyle. That’s the overwhelming reason given by many of the over 400 members of the Facebook group titled Comox Valley Tech Talk as one of the biggest benefits of living and working in the Comox Valley. The combination of local lifestyle and recreation opportunities and community facilities, along with weather that permits skiing at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort in the morning and golfing at courses like Crown Isle in the afternoon, are unique to Vancouver Island. Not to mention the “10 minute commute” from here to everywhere in the Comox Valley, which is extremely attractive to those wishing to escape the snarled traffic congestion of the Lower Mainland. Comox Valley Economic Development Society Executive Director John Watson firmly believes that lifestyle is part of the “Comox Valley Advantage”, and a reason why the technology sector is thriving and growing. People want to live, work and play in the Valley. “The Comox Valley is growing as a home to technology professionals and entrepreneurs who have chosen to change the way they live, work and play,” says Watson. “No longer are we destined to live in traditional urban environments to ply our trade while struggling to maintain or attain a comfortable lifestyle. The Comox Valley offers the comforts of the city, from breweries, restaurants and burgeoning arts and culture, as well as the benefits of living in an affordable, livable, recreation-rich and family-friendly Vancouver Island location. “It’s a perfect mix for those seeking a work /life balance, and interested in being part of a growing tech oriented business community.” No longer are employees destined to live in traditional urban environments to ply their trades while struggling to maintain or attain a comfortable lifestyle, he adds, noting regularly scheduled flights at Comox Valley Airport make it easy to get in and out of the Valley, which is a must for many businesses. Consider these comments from transplanted technology workers: “I previously lived and worked in Toronto and then Vancouver. The design and technology sector in those cities has a very strong presence and is a widely celebrated economic driver,” says one, noting there are a large number of people working in the tech industry from home. “Working in tech has allowed me live, work and play here while earning revenue from mostly outside the Comox Valley. I didn’t move here for all the possibilities in tech, but because working in tech made it possible to move here.” Another notes: “Living in the Comox Valley has allowed me to take risks I couldn't have in a big city. The cost of living is much lower, and quality of life is better. Because of this, I'm able to try new things that aren't guaranteed to be an overnight moneymaker." Then this: “There’s a lot of people out here that are doing interesting work in various tech related fields, but a lot of them are doing it remotely. As a result, if you don’t know that’s what they do, you’d have no way of figuring that out," says an operations engineer working remotely for an international company. “We chose the Comox Valley because it's a small town with great community, easy access to mountains and ocean, affordable housing, and being closer to California and Washington makes it easier to get to tech conferences." Research shows the Comox Valley is attracting the best and brightest from all over. From professionals who work remotely for startups and large corporations, to consultants, entrepreneurs, to locals just starting out. Designers and developers, marketers and analysts, scientists and engineers, business types and executives, live and work in the area. Examples of local technology operations that attract highly educated and motivated staff include the Deep Bay Research Centre, which is a key research facility for Vancouver Island University. Because it is located on the balmier east coast of Vancouver Island, it makes it easily accessible to important community amenities. North Island College has the Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation (CARTI), which connects staff and students with local businesses and organizations to develop innovative solutions to current challenges. CARTI’s goal is to connect communities through research, and does so by offering services to support research project development, project management and funding. 19 Wing Comox is at the Canadian Forces Base Comox, and their Aurora crews keep watch over the ocean looking for illegal fishing, migration, drugs and pollution in addition to foreign submarines. Its CC-115 Buffalo Aircraft and CH-149 Cormorant Helicopters are staffed and maintained at the base, preparing them to carry out search and rescue operations in the busiest region in Canada. One of the most exciting arrivals in the Comox Valley is the Anandia Cannabis Innovation Center, which opened recently in Comox. Anandia, whose headquarters are in Vancouver, has been voted the Top Cannabis Testing Lab in Canada. It now has a highly trained team set up in the Comox Valley facility for cannabis testing, genetics, and research, where they study everything from microbial contaminants to foreign matter in quality-control testing services that ensure safe and saleable products. The Comox Valley Tech Talk group is an unofficial “support group” that provides an idea of the scope of the industry. Nanaimo-based Innovation Island also offers connections and start-up tips for Comox Valley tech workers and companies. Community Tech Groups. As stated, many of these companies comfortably operate within the friendly confines of home. But for those who need to get out and change their environment, or even if they are in a pinch, there are a number of worker-friendly cafes and restaurants offering WiFi services. There are also shared workspaces like Coastal Co-working and Creator Space in Courtenay. Watson sees even brighter days ahead for the Comox Valley tech sector, as North Island College offers one and two-year digital design and web development programs, and Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo also offers courses that are preparing the next wave of tech workers. “The local tech workforce has been under development for several years at both the secondary and post secondary levels,” he notes. “Local secondary schools offer digital design and engineering courses and sport robotics teams that compete internationally.”

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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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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:
Terry O'reilly
The Pacific North West seafood and aquaculture industry continues to demonstrate tremendous growth and the BC Seafood Expo, being held June 12 and 13 in the Comox Valley, British Columbia, during BC Seafood Month, will bring together renowned speakers, exhibitors and leaders across the sector to explore challenges & opportunities for continued growth and industry expansion. Dr. Myron Roth, BC Ministry of Agriculture, is Chair of the BC Seafood Expo Program Committee is developing an extensive seminar program. Additional members of the Committee include Dr. Tony Farrell – University of British Columbia, Solveig McLaren – Ministry of Agriculture, Darlene Winterburn – BC Shellfish Growers Association, Richard Hardy – Pentlatch Seafoods, Gabriel Kosmider - DFO, Ian Roberts - Marine Harvest Canada, Guy Dean - Albion Fisheries. Included in the 10 different Expo sessions featuring over 30 speakers, two key note speakers have been announced including Ned Bell, Seafood Champion & Executive Chef of Oceanwise Canada, and Terry O’Reilly, Host of CBC’s Under the Influence.  Terry has won a few hundred national and international awards for writing and has directed such notable actors as Alec Baldwin, Ellen DeGeneres, Kiefer Sutherland, Bob Newhart, Martin Short and Drew Carey. Terry talks about the key marketing issues all companies and organizations face – from the critical need to embed emotion in marketing, to why customer service = profit, to how to change a negative perception, to why smart marketers don’t outspend their competitors – they outsmart them. In addition to the sessions, registrants for the Expo will have access to the Expo Trade show area and producer site tours including those hosted by the BC Salmon Farmers Association, BC’s largest exporter of seafood. The International Buyers Reception will feature celebrity chefs, seafood from many of BC’s seafood industry associations and will be sponsored by Flying Fresh Air Freight. For more information or to register online visit

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