From hardware to software, social media to marketing, about 40 people involved in the Comox Valley technology sector came together Wednesday to brainstorm during the inaugural Comox Valley Round Table on Tech and Innovation.
Organizer Hans Peter Meyer said the event highlighted the emerging tech sector in the Valley and assessed the strengths, desires and impact on the local economy.
“It’s a significant part of the economy and a lot of it has been happening below the radar,” he explained. “The tech sector is a broad definition. It’s not just people with soldering guns or with physical objects, but it includes digital products.”
Meyer said the tech sector across Vancouver Island has been growing significantly, and they are hoping to make the Comox Valley another hub for the burgeoning sector.
“Right now, the industry in Victoria is valued at $4 billion, and in Nanaimo, it’s $200 million. (The industry) allows people to work here but serves markets and clients around the world.”
Meyer noted issues addressed during the roundtable held at North Island College, supported by the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce and Susanne Sampson of NIC, included looking at how to make the Valley’s tech sector business grow, creating visions and coming up with specific asks.
Nearly all those who attended were small business owners making a living in the tech sector, added Meyer, but representatives from the municipalities included Comox Mayor Paul Ives and Cumberland Councillor Roger Kishi.
Meyer noted local government and the community at large really doesn’t understand the Valley’s tech sector.
“Why invest? Because it’s good for downtowns, it’s good for the region, and most importantly, it creates real jobs and real incomes,” he said.
“We’ve encouraged a huge amount of retail and services, and that’s great, but they don’t allow for higher incomes and families to come here and raise their families.”
Meyer said there are many people who moved back to the Valley to work in the sector and as the talent pool grows, the government does need to be part of the bigger picture.
“The industry isn’t looking for a handout but they are looking for infrastructure to help move this along.”
A report from the roundtable will be released in a few weeks.