The leader of the BC Liberal Party paid a visit to Salmon Arm to tour the Innovation Centre on Shuswap Street.
Andrew Wilkinson had glowing praise to heap upon Salmon Arm, saying it is an example of the way B.C. has largely skipped heavy manufacturing industry in favour of growing a robust tech sector.
“What that means is we go straight into the 21st century economy with software development; video games are a big business in British Columbia, digital effects in the movie industry is a huge business in British Columbia and the Salmon Arm Innovation Centre means they’re going to be a part of it,” he said.
“Salmon Arm has turned into a real growth centre in B.C. It’s fascinating to get off Highway 1 to see how much is growing and building here like the Innovation Centre.”
Wilkinson toured the various offices and working spaces of the centre along with Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo and Salmon Arm Councillor Kevin Flynn. Leading the tour were Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS) manager Lana Fitt and Thomas Brigginshaw, the centre’s executive director.
Fitt told Wilkinson that things are still in their early days at the centre, but the early occupancy figures are encouraging with 65 per cent of the co-working spaces filled with tech startups and businesses that will support the tech sector. She added the Innovation Centre team hopes for full occupancy by the end of 2019. Fitt also expressed her gratitude for the support from the building’s landlord Bill Laird who is billing the centre only for the space within the building occupied by tenants.
Along with the offices housing growing tech companies, the MLAs toured the makerspace which occupies the Innovation Centre’s bottom floor where Wilkinson tried out the virtual reality booth and saw the 3D printer lab and spacious wood shop available to those who pay a monthly membership fee.
While in Salmon Arm, Wilkinson also met with a roundtable made up of members of the local agricultural sector and toured Valid Manufacturing.