Planning underway for 18th Annual State of the Island Economic Summit

Delegates at the VIEA Economic Summit.
Photo: Dirk Heydemann

Every year hundreds of delegates from across Vancouver Island converge in Nanaimo for the VIEA Economic Summit, produced by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance. Now as the Summit enters its 18th year, we asked Julie Sperber, VIEA’s President, to share what attendees can expect.

What is the VIEA Summit all about?

It’s really all about connecting the region of Vancouver Island and the rural islands to one another for collaborative opportunities and to hear where different regions are in terms of business and economic development projects and initiatives.

Summit 2024 will be held in Nanaimo at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. The key dates are October 23 and 24, which are a Wednesday and Thursday, but some activities and optional opportunities 
will be happening ahead of the event.

Can you give us an idea as to the structure of the events for 2024?

There’s an exciting new opportunity to come a day early on the 22nd to do some professional development, learning and engaging with other leaders in the region. Then for the main dates, Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th, we’ll hear from the different session panels — 20 sessions over the two days, each one being between 60 to 90 minutes long. 

On Wednesday morning we will be showcasing different businesses and entrepreneurs, when people can meet
and greet and learn about cool projects
and interesting entrepreneurs or startups in the region.

VIEA President Julie Sperber speaks at the annual Economic Summit. Photo: Dirk Heydemann.
VIEA President Julie Sperber speaks at the annual Economic Summit. Photo: Dirk Heydemann.

After the closing lunch on the Thursday, there will be the next step to the Action 
Labs from 2023. The feedback from last year’s labs was positive so we’ve decided to grow that style of engagement. This year the topic is “Vision 2050”; what we would like to see develop here in the region, how we can be proactive to work toward it and guide outcomes.

We’ll ask where we want Vancouver Island to go in the next 25 years to achieve the thriving, regional and resilient economy that we’re all hoping for.

Is there an example project you can point to that was brought about because of some connections that were made at VIEA?

Over the years we discovered that there was a lack of regional data available, so VIEA started to work with our partners at MNP to produce the “State of the Island Economic Report.” It used to be printed but as of 2023 it transitioned to the Economic Dashboard which is accessible year-round, lives on the VIEA website and is updated quarterly.

What kinds of people attend VIEA, and how does attending in person benefit them? 

Each year about 600 people attend, including entrepreneurs, business leaders, elected officials and government staff, as well as people from the resource sector and not-for-profits. We have an increasing number of First Nation communities and leaders  participating in the Summit, and we are continuing to foster this growing engagement. 

Summit delegates tell us that it is the event to attend for information and networking in the region. 

The VIEA Economic Summit covers topics of interest to businesses and organizations of all sizes.
Photo: Dirk Heydemann

How can people register, and do you look for volunteers?

Registration will open in late June with early-bird pricing until July 31. Registration will close one week prior to the event. People who want to volunteer to help execute the Summit can get in touch via email to