Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick is headed to China this October, alongside Purcell International Education (PIE), in order to meet with potential investors regarding a proposed $50 million full-time international education school in Kimberley.
Duncan MacLeod, who was formerly the International Education Manager for SD6 and the Rocky Mountain International Education Program, has started a new venture as President of Purcell International Education Ltd. He has invited the Mayor to China, all expenses paid by PIE.
MacLeod was reached for comment with no response, however in a letter to Mayor and Council he explained that PIE is seeking to raise $50 million from Chinese investors in Hong Kong and Guangdong, along with investors in the Vancouver area.
“As an economic development initiative, the proposed school has transformational potential for Kimberley,” wrote MacLeod.
He adds that the school is forecast to generate over $20 million per year in annual revenue and $10 million in secondary (mostly local) spending by students and their parents.
MacLeod and McCormick want to put Kimberley on the map for foreign investors. The Mayor says that a large amount of foreign money is invested into the mainland, however himself and MacLeod are working with the province to notify investors that “there’s more than the mainland”.
“International education is a significant export earner for British Columbia, contributing more than $2 billion to the economy annually,” MacLeod said. “The majority of the activity in the sector takes place in the Lower Mainland but the Kootenay Rockies region of B.C. has established its own market and has demonstrated potential to grow, particularly in Kimberley where international education has a long and successful history that has only been limited by access to available spaces in the public school international program.”
The three major factors affecting investors’ decisions, says McCormick, are dollars, safety of kids, and the diversity of students.
He adds that PIE would need 40 to 50 acres of land on which to build their campus, and the development would be phased over several years.
“40 to 50 acres in Surrey would probably cost $40 or $50 million,” said McCormick.
Where those 40 to 50 acres will be has yet to be determined. McCormick says that PIE is currently looking at Teck owned lands in Forest Crowne, along with exploring other options.
Kimberley would see a diverse student body, of approximately 450, with one third from China, one third from other international locations such as Europe and one third from across North America. They will all follow the B.C. Education curriculum and the school would be a full-time, year-round operation, says McCormick.
“The proposed independent school will not only create additional spaces but new and attractive programming in support of maximizing the international education opportunity in and for Kimberley,” said MacLeod.
Despite the fact that investors are “really interested” in this project, says MacLeod, they need to be convinced that Kimberley is the right place to do so. Hence, the Mayor’s trip to China.
Once there, McCormick and MacLeod will work with investors and consultants to build a business case, and they will also need to acquire political support on a local, provincial and federal level.