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October 28, 2017 1:49 am

Doing Business in Northern B.C.- A Fresh Look

Thursday, October 29, 2015 @ 3:59 AM

ramonaPrince George, B.C. – When it comes to business in Northern B.C., there’re a lot of  questions and a new book by  Ramona Materi, President of Ingenia Consulting, aims to  give you some answers.

(at right,  author Ramona Materi – photo250News)

Materi is the author of  “British Columbia’s New North” a book that paints the  picture of what’s  going on  in the region and how to make the best of it.

Although not from northern B.C,  Materi says that may have been an advantage when  writing a book about  how to land   or do business in the region “I think somebody  who is from the north would have a deeper  understanding of things under the surface than me”  but that’s neither good nor bad  says Materi “The strength from  being from the outside is that you kind of  see things as they are,  there is not that  history, or  have chosen sides, or have any  expectations.”

She says the book was written  for people like her, who  need a  quick course on  ‘Northern BC 101’.

There are  plenty of opportunities for  new business and  growth of existing business, but  Materi says  there is  work to be done before one takes the plunge with one first step  being that  you have a presence on the Internet “If you’re trying to get in on a major project, their procurement people  are  going to be using the web. So,  it doesn’t have to be an all singing, all dancing website,  just a really basic plain website that says we’re in this business.”  She points to the Northern Development Initiative Trust’s Supply Chain Connector as an example  of how,  at no cost,  a northern business can  be  visible on the web.  (see details on the Supply Chain Connector here)

While there are a number of  projects  which have yet to come to fruition,  Materi says  there has been a great deal of lead up work,  and points to the northwest as an example of  how  companies can benefit from that  work “One of the people I talked to in Terrace was doing a lot of business with a pipeline company because they were looking at surveying  the  route,  and they  needed  two way radios, so that was a boost to his company.  It’s not like they went from two people to 50, but  there was  steady business.”

Whether launching a new venture, or  planning  to  grow,  there are a number of things  a business can do  to give themselves an edge.  Partnering with First Nations on projects  would be a plus,  says Materi, as many of the major  projects  planned or contemplated for the North,  have  impact benefit agreements in place which may  guarantee  employment or other benefits for First Nations.

Another plus  would be knowing what kinds of grants and supports are available  through a variety of agencies, including the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

She says companies, or  people wanting to start a company  have to be “Realistically optimistic”   and adds  “I’m not trying to represent the North as a goldmine  where you’re poor one day and rich the next,   but I think, from what I’ve seen, there are   opportunities and half a billion dollars into a region is going to  do something.”

Materi will be talking  about this subject at the Bob Harkins branch of the Prince George  Public Library  this afternoon from  2:30  to 4.   The event is free.


We need some free enterprise enabling policies in the north. As it is now we have policies that are monopoly capitalism which doesn’t enable the ability for new entrants into the mega project fold.

An example is with highways. Why not have a policy of rest stop and forestry site build outs that could go out with a slightly lower barrier to new entrants as an enabler for new entrants to the sector, and thus build the capacity of companies that would be available to bid on the larger projects as they come available.

Also a lot can be said for having a union call up work force as opposed to the temporary foreign worker programs in building a small business into a large business.

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