Taking a Look at the 14th Annual Economic Summit from VIEA

Get all the details on the 14th Annual Economic Summit hosted by VIEA from October 27-29, 2020. Speakers, key themes, and how it will work virtually.

Students-VIU nanaimo_campus 1
Vancouver Island University’s (Nanaimo campus shown here) is one of the post- secondary institutions looking at how to adapt

Creating Lasting Change

I am no fan of boxing but 2020 has felt like a steady stream of blows taken from an opponent we didn’t see come into the ring. It reminds me of what former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson once said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” While we may have shaken off the initial shock and steadied our wobbly legs, whatever plans we had in March — before we got hit — were meaningless by April.

The world has been left bobbing and weaving, pivoting and adjusting to our changed circumstances. Here in B.C., and across Canada, a degree of stability was quickly established by both the federal and provincial government’s effective responses to the pandemic. This is not to diminish the impact on our lives of these last seven months — the effects of COVID-19 are much more harsh for some people and business sectors than others.

I noted on Canada Day this year that I have never been prouder or happier to be Canadian; and live on Vancouver Island. Living on the Island, have you ever noticed how winter tides and weather reconfigure the shoreline? This year, I watched a freshwater stream descending from sandstone cliffs, its course changed over time by the many tons of sand relocated by winter seas. The mouth of this stream had moved some 200 metres from its normal path. The sand, stream, stones, logs, gulls, pipers and sea were still there, but in a much-changed configuration.

The normal course of our lives has, and will continue, to change. The shifting of these sands is devastating to some, impactful but manageable for many, and bountiful for others. While dine-in restaurants have been hammered, those adept at the transition to takeout have fared well, and grocery stores have boomed. While conference centres have either closed or repurposed themselves as hospitals in some cities, video conferencing services have exploded and in doing so expanded the scope of who can come together.

It’s not about getting back to normal — there really is no going back. It’s more about where we go from here. If the result of COVID-19 is a new normal, perhaps more digital but essentially the same, we will have squandered our opportunity for profound change. But if we can harness our collective intelligence and determination to transform our economy, there is hope.

What if we can make lasting changes? What if we can find solutions to nagging problems that we used to think couldn’t be addressed, because doing so would be too disruptive? We all know that there are problems in our economy, in our society, in our communities, and in our environment, worthy of our best efforts. With this disruption already in place, why not swing for the fence? That’s exactly what we hope this year’s Summit will do.

The Digital Summit

Whether or not you have participated in the Economic Summit before, this annual grassroots event will bring you together with other business, community, and government leaders to help shape our Island economy. Every session is an opportunity to explore emerging trends, find solutions to nagging problems, or identify opportunities worthy of pursuit. There has never been a more important time to connect, learn, share ideas, think and ask questions together.

The Economic Summit Planning Committee spent months considering how to deliver a meaningful, engaging, thought-provoking, action-inspiring event through a digital platform. With a gathering that normally exceeds 600, the Summit could not take place in person this year. By going digital we’ve eliminated restrictions to geographic boundaries, bringing this virtual experience to our stakeholders wherever they may be, and with significantly reduced fees.

Registration for the Economic Summit is available at viea.ca, where you can also find detailed information about the program, panelists, and keynote presenters. You can choose a Three-Pack subscription giving you access to three sessions of your choice, or a Full Access pass to participate in all sessions, chat groups, and marketplace events. There’s a discounted rate for students. Summit participants will receive a digital copy of the 2020 State of the Island Economic Report, essential reading for anyone serious about business on Vancouver Island in 2020 and beyond.

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA, pronounced Vie-Ee-Yah) is a not-for-profit organization, established in 2006, that prompts economic opportunities all over Vancouver Island. The idea that ‘together we’re better’ is at the heart of the organization, and is perhaps truer and more relevant today than ever. VIEA is unique in Canada, a non-government organization dedicated to collaboration to help ensure a vital and sustainable Island and Gulf Island economy.

The annual Economic Summit is hosted by VIEA for the expressed purpose of uniting and connecting decision makers, informing and adding to the conversation on economic vitality, and leading the creation of new economic opportunities. Unprecedented in terms of its global impact, the pandemic has brought a sense of urgency to this year’s event. As an organization dedicated to building collaborative partnerships, VIEA welcomes your voice at the table. More than that actually, we need your voice, your expertise, your ideas, your support — we all do, there is a lot to talk about.

If you are already a member of VIEA, thank you. Your engagement enables VIEA to exist.
If you are not yet a member, I invite you to join and be part of shaping the future of our Island home. We are excited to see widespread participation in the Summit this year. It will be a new experience for all of us, myself included.

Virtual 2020 Economic Summit: Programme Highlights

While the impacts and implications of our COVID-19 experience are unavoidable, the Summit will deliberately focus on topics that transcend present circumstances and promise new approaches for improved results.

Indigenomics & Reconciliation, Wednesday Oct 28, 8:30-9:30am PST

A discussion about what reconciliation looks like on the ground, face-to-face in business dealings and community interactions. As Island First Nations continue developing their economies, how will all of our local economies relate for mutual benefit?

Moderator: Dan Hurley, Principal, Hurley Martin Group
Panel: Carol Anne Hilton, Founder & CEO, Indigenomics Institute; Karen Joseph, CEO, Reconciliation Canada

The Future of Post-secondary Education, Wednesday Oct 28, 2:30-3:30pm PST

International students make an enormous contribution to our Island economy, their valuable global perspective promoting innovative thought and action. Universities around the world are suffering from the immobility of students to travel internationally, and looking for ways to deliver education under current restrictions. How will institutions adjust? How will curricula for domestic students be affected?

Moderator: Michael Hawes, Executive Director, Fulbright Canada
Panel: Deborah Saucier, President, Vancouver Island University; Philip Steenkamp, President, Royal Roads University; Chris Horbachewski, Vice-President External Relations, University of Victoria

Getting Goods to Market: We Can’t Get There from Here, Thursday Oct 29, 2:30-3:30pm PST

When the pandemic fuelled fears of global food shortages consumers became more aware than ever of the origin of their food – the demand for local fare has never been higher. How can Island producers overcome the long-standing challenge of transporting products to local markets? This talk will address distribution and discuss help that appears to be on the way.

Moderator: Bruce Williams, CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Panel: Jaymie Collins, General Manager, Vancouver Island Farm Products; Mark Smith, Principal, Query Distribution; David McCormick, Director Public Relations & Business Development

Leadership Is Essential: We Now Know What This Does and Doesn’t Looks Like, Thursday Oct 29, 2:30-3:30pm PST

The importance of true leadership within our communities has come to the forefront through the pandemic. At every level of society leadership, or lack thereof, has been key to how we have dealt with the current crisis. Going forward, how will we discover, promote and nurture leadership within our communities? What traits, skills and values will distinguish the individuals who take on key roles in our society and economy? This talk brings together a panel of elected officials to consider how to inspire a new generation of leaders.

Moderator: Kristi Rivait, Co-founding Director, Scale Collaborative
Panel: Terry Beech, MP for Burnaby North— Seymour, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard; Lana Popham, BC Minister of Agriculture; Erralyn Thomas, Councilor, Snuneymuxw First Nation; Robert Filmer, Councillor, Town of Qualicum Beach

■ Entrepreneurs Panel: Island Good Manufacturers Share Their Unfinished Stories, Thursday Oct 29, 10-11am PST

VIEA’s Island Good brand continues to build recognition and strength in its original food and beverage category with more than 90 licensees. Since 2018 the brand, which guarantees a secure supply of local goods, has raised public awareness of local producers and manufacturers, a focus that has become even more of a heightened concern for buyers throughout the pandemic.

Moderator: Kristi Rivait, Co-founding Director, Scale Collaborative
Panel: Landon Sheck, Principal, Auxbox; Duane Franklin, Partner, Fawcett Mattress; Nels Dugstad, Owner/Principal, Jade Fine Food and Packaging and Arbutus Farms – Fresh Deli Foods

■ The Pros & Cons of Going Digital: Working From Home, Competing Online, and Doing Business More Virtually, Tuesday Oct 27, 12:30-1:30pm PST

While so many of us have undergone the transition to working from home, and taking on the daunting task of developing new business models so we can continue to deliver products and services to our customers, this talk couldn’t come at a better time!
Moderator: Graham Truax, Executive Director, Innovation Island.

Keynote Speakers

  • Kate O’Neill, Founder & CEO of KO Insights based in New York City. Kate is referred to as ‘tech humanist’ by companies like Google, Etsy and Cisco, and will share her optimism about the role of technology in the world as she explores the human impact of a tech-driven future.
  • Dr. Justin G. Bull, Lecturer at the Sauder School of Business and Chair of the Sustainability and Ethics Group. Justin will provide insights regarding the interconnectedness of our economic, health, education, social and ecological systems, through the lens of sustainability and innovation.
  • Susan Mowbray, Partner & Senior Economist, Consulting MNP-LLP. Susan will present findings from VIEA’s 2020 State of the Island Economic Report. Her presentation will suggest trends in various sectors—perhaps sobering expectations in some areas while highlighting opportunities in others.

Continue Reading… The Key Questions of the 2020 Economic Summit