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