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Squamish preparing for trade and investment opportunities

Starting today, Dec. 2, the Squamish Economic Development Office will launch a series of workshops on identifying investment opportunities beyond 2010 and to work on harnessing the exponential growth that is happening in the community.

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Today’s workshop run’s from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Sea to Sky Hotel and Squamish’s Economic Development Officer Lee Malleau said it would be a chance for the business community to discuss issues ranging from wind power, to the film industry and developing the education sector.

"This is really about bringing the community together to look at a number of key factors, like how do we want to re-develop Squamish as a really dynamic and proactive community that’s diverse and sustainable?" said Malleau. "How do we want to reinvent ourselves in a community that has a really great opportunity to do so for all the right reasons?

"This first workshop is part of a series of three that we’re calling the Trade and Investment Marketing Program."

Squamish has some amazing natural resources, including wind, which could be used to generate power, and Malleau said a big part of the program would be deciding how to use these resources.

"Other questions revolve around what opportunities does our community naturally have to attract investment, such as alternative energy and environmental technologies?

"And how can we attract industries that are going to partner or complement existing businesses or existing institutions such as the Sea to Sky University, for example?

"There are some areas that have already been identified like the film industry. Film is really a tremendous opportunity for this community and we’ve been very reactive to that… here. But we haven’t developed a really proactive plan to go out there and bring film into the community.

"Another area is with the Sea to Sky University here and now Capilano College taking a very aggressive position with a much larger campus and establishing their tourism centre of excellence in Squamish, which is a tremendous advantage for us. So how do we take the synergies from that and find ways to establish an education sector and look at other things we can do to bring other people into this community?

"This is also relevant because when investors look at an area they’re looking for education and training facilities that can give their workforces more skill."

In light of the recent failed attempt to build a gondola in Squamish, Malleau added that these workshops would help give the EDO some direction so future complications can be avoided.

"Using the gondola on the Chief as an example, if that was a project that the EDO had gone out and pursued as an investment opportunity and the community said ‘no way’ – then that would not have been a very effective use of resources. So a big part of my role is to have that dialogue with the community ahead of time so we’re not wasting resources."

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