Sechelt Innovations Ltd. (SIL) officially launched with much fanfare, champagne and caviar on Oct. 30.
More than 200 interested business people, government representatives and community members packed the Seaside Centre Wednesday night to celebrate the launch, meet the new board and hear the announcement of new business promised by Sechelt Mayor John Henderson.
He started the evening by explaining council’s reasoning behind the creation of SIL — a business development subsidiary of the District of Sechelt.
“We need to attract younger people and to get that we’ve got to create jobs. So council, we worked very hard in coming up with the right approach that will help us create the environment where people are ready to come here, set up their businesses and create jobs,” Henderson said. “The right approach is to target specific opportunities. Many times the option is ‘we’ll throw the net wide and we’ll hope that somebody comes to see us.’ Well, Sechelt Innovations’ mandate is to target specific opportunities.”
Manager of business development for SIL, Dave Jephcott, told the audience there are seven target industries SIL will go after: agriculture, arts and entertainment, education, health and wellness, natural resources, technology and tourism.
He explained that in the area of agriculture, for example, “we’re talking organic farms, we’re talking greenhouses, we’re talking commercial marijuana operations.”
In every target industry, SIL will seek out and try to entice business to Sechelt.
“We’re in the process of identifying the low hanging fruit in these target industries,” Jephcott said.
He encouraged people to talk to him about their business ideas in the target markets SIL is focusing on.
“Please don’t hesitate to connect with me, with the board of directors of Sechelt Innovations, with Mayor John Henderson. We are open for business,” he said.
The new board of directors is made up of seven successful business people on the Coast. Members Chris Fawcus, Rob Flux, Teresa Fournier, Greg Latham, Mark Sager, Lance Sparling and Christine Stefanik were introduced to the public during the launch event.
“Council realized that the best way to attract business is to have business people involved in that initiative,” Henderson said.
He ended the speeches by announcing six new businesses that are “starting or about to start” in Sechelt.
The new businesses include a winery in Selma Park that “crushed their first grapes five days ago,” a hotel/restaurant development in West Porpoise Bay dubbed Vanta Pacific that will offer 30 suites, diversification of Target Marine to offer more species of fish roe and meat for sale, a new 120-room hotel in East Porpoise Bay “at the foot of Dusty Road” that will also hold a small conference centre, the Coast Gravity Park and a Telus fibre optic network upgrade that Sechelt Coun. Chris Moore said will greatly benefit home businesses in Sechelt.
“Even though we have six of them, we can’t rest on our laurels,” Henderson noted. “We need more jobs, we need more businesses, and that will help keep our taxes low. And you can quote me on that.”