Speakers talk about hiring and retaining rock star employees at the Fraser Valley Tech Forum, Nov. 7, 2019 at the Coast Chilliwack Hotel. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Fraser Valley Tech Forum united startup enterpreneurs with tech resources

Just under 200 people attended the daylong tech event at the Coast Chilliwack Hotel

The Fraser Valley Tech Forum featured an astounding array of speakers and vital information about tech startups at the Coast Chilliwack on Thursday.

Just under 200 people attended the daylong event.

Successful startup leaders rubbed shoulders with government, educators, tech influencers and community stakeholders.

READ MORE: Getting ready for the 2019 Tech Forum

The third annual Fraser Valley Tech Forum, presented by tech hub XLRator in partnership with Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation, zeroed in on how to connect with investors and attract stellar employees for new startups and tech companies.

“We are very proud to be supported by local industry, regional municipalities, businesses and services organizations in elevating the tech scene and growth of tech ecosystem in the Fraser Valley,” said Raymond Szabada, CEO and chair of XLRator.

Since the beginning the tech hub XLRator has set its sights on building a strong and connected tech ecosystem through events and programming.

“As XLRator launches new programs in the coming year for entrepreneurs and investors across the region, we are very positive about the outlook for the Fraser Valley to leverage the digital and knowledge-based economies,” Szabada added.

During the panel on hiring and retaining “rock star” employees, UFV’s David Harper shared his vision for Fraser Valley as the “solution” for the future of tech — not just in B.C. but for Canada.

“I look at what we have here, and all the things that are going on,” Harper said. “We have a beautiful place to live, we have a border, we have a highway, we have a river that is a fisheries river, we have FN communities here.”

Add to that great diversity, and the best country in the world to live in, according to UFV’s director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We have this really dynamic, innovative culture here,” Harper said. “We produce more startups than most. I think we’re number fourteen on the planet in terms of startup production.”

B.C. produced 13,500 jobs last quarter, that’s “number one in North America, for the rate of production of jobs in the tech sector.

“This place is just booming,” Harper underlined. “But we have a problem. And the problem is a lot is happening in Vancouver, and Vancouver is too expensive to expect that C-level seeding to grow your company into a unicorn or $100 million-revenue company.

“We have the solution: seed the Fraser Valley. We have the best quality of life.”

In 20 years, he predicts people won’t even be talking about Silicon Valley as the epicentre of startups.

“That’s going to be old and hackneyed. They’re going to be talking about the Fraser Valley. They’ll be talking about how we developed our community into a modern agro-tech community that encompasses all that is good about Canada.”

All the region needs is the entrepreneurial energy, the money, government buy-in, and the long-term planning.

“This is the place that we can build it,” Harper said. “This is the place that we have to build it.”

READ MORE: Unleashing Chilliwack’s potential

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