Vancouver Island Economic Summit Energizes Idea Exchange

Vancouver Island’s economic landscape is the hot topic at the 8th Annual State of the Island Economic Summit at the Nanaimo Conference Centre on Oct. 29 and 30th.

The jam-packed two-day convention — which draws hundreds of business, government and community leaders from across Vancouver Island and beyond — will conclude with an address by Premier Christy Clark, followed by keynote speaker Jason Kenney, Canada’s minister of employment and social development.
George Hanson, president of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA), says Kenney’s current portfolio, combined with his past portfolio as minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, makes him an ideal national figure to speak on some of the country’s most pressing issues and ones that have a big impact on the Island.
Also headlining the conference is Sophie Pierre, chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission. Says Hanson, “The recent Supreme Court ruling [on Aboriginal land title] has raised the profile of First Nations and their economic development. So I think it’s very timely to have Sophie Pierre here.”
Conference goers will get a glimpse of the future via globally known futurist and strategy advisor Bob Treadway who will explore the forces driving business over the next five years and beyond. He will delve into social change, demographic shifts, consumer behaviour and some of the surprises that could await Island industries and companies in 2020.
Along with keynote presentations, the summit will feature 16 breakout sessions, including Passion to Profits: Discover the Success Strategies of Island Entrepreneurs sponsored by Douglas magazine. Editor-in-chief Kerry Slavens will host a panel of Vancouver Island’s most talked-about entrepreneurs to discuss how they broke through the barriers to success to create successful companies that have attracted local, national and international attention for their passion, innovation and business smarts.
Panelists include:

  • Mandy Farmer, CEO of Accent Inns and Hotel Zed
  • Ho Kim, president and CEO of CAMACC Systems
  • Toni Desrosiers, BDC’s 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year and CEO of Abeego
  • Peter Elkins, an entrepreneur, angel investor and co-founder of The Press

When the Island’s first economic summit was held in 2007, it was conceived as what Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) president George Hanson describes as a “gap filler” to set the stage for building Island-wide relationships to support building a vital, sustainable economy.
“Previously, there was no organization outside of government with a lens that looked at the economy for the entire Island or had the capacity and mandate to engage people in all of the sectors on the Island,”
 Hanson says.
Eight years later, the VIEA summit is doing more than filling gaps. With this year’s keynote speakers including Jason Kenney, federal minister of employment, and Sophie Pierre, chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission, the summit has become a major influencer in setting the Island’s economic agenda.
Hanson is thrilled with the high-calibre speakers — who also include Ken Peacock, BC Business Council chief economist and Bob Treadway, futurist — but the conference, expected to draw 600-plus attendees, remains true to its roots despite its success.
“The purpose and texture of the summit is about Island people from all sectors coming together in a grassroots way,” he says. Some of the grassroots work will be done in summit workshops, which cover topics from social enterprise to aerospace
“Ultimately, this is about issues, opportunities and trends on Vancouver Island,” says Hanson. “It’s not your standard business conference.”