"Capital Mission" to Become Annual Economic Development Event

­In February, the economic development “reverse mission” saw Mayor Lisa Helps and local representatives welcome Washington, California and Canadian-based companies, investors and ex patriots to the Capital City. Based on its success, the City of Victoria and community partners plan to make the “Capital Mission” an annual event. The next mission is scheduled to take place in spring 2017.

Twenty-five guests from Los Angeles, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto participated in the mission to Victoria. In an exit survey, 100% of attendees said they would refer this mission to others in their networks. During their visit to Victoria, a total of 295 contacts were made, 156 “face-to-face” business meetings were held, and 88 qualified business leads were generated. Since the mission’s “Discover Tectoria” event, 93 follow-up discussions have taken place.

The province’s #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC’s Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse knowledge-based economy. The 10-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity across the province. For more information: www.bctechstrategy.ca

Survey respondents noted in their comments that Victoria has talent, has a great civic environment to support startup culture, and that an event like this makes generating new business in Victoria much more attractive and easier.

Capitalizing on a successful trade mission to San Francisco last year, February’s “reverse mission” to Victoria involved the City, University of Victoria, VIATEC, Tourism Victoria, Downtown Victoria Business Association, Urban Development Institute and Capital Investment Network collaborating to support existing and new entrepreneurs, and inspire innovation in local markets.                                                                            

Over the three-day mission, attendees met at Fort Tectoria to hear why Victoria is the place to live, work, play and invest. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, United States Consul General Lynne Platt and Tim Catlin, Vice-President of Engineering at Change.org, delivered remarks followed by dozens of start-ups pitching Victoria. 

“Accelerated walkability” was a focus as visitors hit the streets checking out co-working spaces, and new and renewed developments. The Royal BC Museum served as a backdrop for a discussion with Seattle-based investor and author, John Maher, about angel investments and start-ups, and the mission capped off with a one-day exposition of over 70 Greater Victoria tech firms and research agencies at the Crystal Garden.  

Background

Victoria is a dynamic and thriving city, offering a high quality of life that a smaller city can provide. Creating Prosperity Through Economic Development is a key objective of the City of Victoria’s strategic plan for focus and investment over the next three years. Based on community input, the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Development and Prosperity developed the Making Victoria: Unleashing Potential - Economic Action Plan. Approved by City Council in October 2015, the plan identifies six primary “engines" to drive Victoria’s businesses, generate jobs, raise household incomes, and increase well-being over the next four years. 

In addition, a Business Hub has been established at City Hall to streamline and demystify business and development processes; make it easier to do business in Victoria; advise on how to reduce unnecessary red tape; connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need; and accelerate the development of a vibrant downtown.