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Advanced Technology

The advanced technology industry sector is growing throughout the Okanagan Valley.
The major high-technology sectors represented in the valley are: information technology, engineering services, aerospace, biotechnology, and technology support services. In addition there is an established R&D community.

The outlook for the high-technology industry sector is extremely positive. A major advantage for the technology industry is the availability of the infrastructure and resources to assist in the start-up and growth of businesses in the Okanagan Valley.

The British Columbia government is assisting the advanced technology industry sector by providing:

The concentration of high-technology firms in the Okanagan Valley has reached a stage that fosters the development of advanced infrastructure, financing and capital, programs for research, ongoing education, and networking opportunities.

In response to this growth, the Silicon Vineyard and Okanagan Science and Technology Council were established to encourage future growth, support the development of advanced technology infrastructure, and provide a forum for high-technology businesses to network.

It is the quality of life associated with the Okanagan Valley that plays a significant factor in attracting and retaining skilled workers. In addition, Agriculture Canada and Agri-Food Canada operate a research station in Summerland (just south of the North Okanagan region) which houses extensive lab capabilities, biotechnology skills, and food processing pilot facilities, and offers companies significant services.

The BC government has revamped labour regulations to aid high-tech growth, and new standards will assist to improve workplace flexibility. Specific changes include exemptions from requirements regarding hours of work, overtime and statutory holidays.


The film industry in British Columbia has experienced exceptional growth over the past years. In 2007, the film and television industry shot over 200 productions in BC. BC's production industry provides an estimated 20,000 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs.
During this time the Okanagan Valley has become known as an established film production location. Movies such as "Fido","Snow Falling On Cedars", "Touched", "By Dawn's First Light", scenes from "The Pledge", as well as Spielberg produced mini-series like "Taken" and dozens of commercials have shot in this sunny valley. Once a guarded secret, the region's stunning scenery and fabulous weather have been discovered and shot by filmmakers from around the globe. Deserts, mountain lakes, lush orchards and vineyards, stark canyons, quaint small towns, pastoral countryside, ski villages and more, are available as locations for filming.

The North Okanagan community supports the film industry through the Okanagan Film Commission. The Okanagan Film Commission provides valuable resources and connections to the film industry, including a locations library with over 750 locations, and a crew membership database. The region has tremendous potential for the film industry, and growth in this sector is expected to be continuous throughout the next five years. The film industry offers the region many advantages besides the direct dollars expended by film companies. The spin-off economy from film productions in the region generates demand for new service industries and provides an increase in business for existing services and products.


In recent years significant changes have occurred, both in the aviation industry and in the North Okanagan community. Examples of changing standards and trends in the aviation industry include major modifications of Transport Canada Aviation airport design criteria, a national increase in the number of personal-use general aviation aircraft owners, an increase in the number of maintenance facilities, and growth in corporate charters and air cargo operations. The structure of the commercial industry has changed with the transition of major airline hub-and-spoke operations and code-sharing regional carriers, and the growth of no-frills operators such as West-Jet and its imitators.

In the North Okanagan, the Vernon Regional Airport is located on approximately 90 acres at an elevation of 1,149' above sea level. The Vernon Regional Airport is a commercial airport that houses industrial-based businesses that focus on aircraft manufacturing and maintenance, as well as a base for corporate, commercial and general aviation.

The Vernon Regional Airport has developed a Master Plan to encourage economic development of businesses at the airport. The facilities are divided into two groups: airfield and land-side. The airfield facilities include runways, taxiways, airport lighting, hazard beacon and navigational aid. The land-side facilities consist of buildings, aircraft parking aprons, hangars, and auto parking spaces. The site provides a prime area for small aviation industries seeking an environment that supports development in the aerospace industry.


The largest manufacturers in the North Okanagan include: Tolko Industries (large integrated sawmill), Kal Tire Ltd. (retreading), and Maax Westco Ltd. (fibreglassing). The manufacturing sector generally consists of small and medium firms and covers areas such as soft drinks, bakeries, metal fabricating, concrete products, fibreglass, food processing, value-added wood products, and textiles.

The decline in traditional forest industries has required that the North Okanagan Region encourage and support the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in value-added products, including log house building, specialized milling, furniture production, etc. The Interior Value-Added Wood Association provides services to assist businesses in product development, accessing capital, accessing fibre and generally lobbying for the industry.

While there is not a large amount of heavy industrial land available in the North Okanagan, there are considerable resources available for smaller light industrial activity. Small manufacturers have considerable success in the North Okanagan due to low lease costs, access to transportation infrastructure, and low labour costs.

Tourism plays an important role in the BC economy, with nearly $5.5 billion–about 4%–of the province’s gross domestic product (GDP) originating in the tourism sector in 2006.

The North Okanagan region attracts visitors from all parts of BC, Canada, as well as internationally. Accommodations and other facilities and services have multiplied rapidly over the past ten years to meet the needs of tourists and to offer unique and special tourist services. The North Okanagan's assets are those common to the entire Okanagan Valley: warm dry climate, stunning lakes, world-class golf courses, excellent fishing lakes, developed ski resorts, and beautiful scenery.

Eco-tourism, adventure tourism and agri-tourism have shown major growth in the tourism industry. New ventures in outdoor recreation, nature excursions, winery tours, and many other innovative and exciting ventures have started in the North Okanagan. The region's climate, scenery and culture offer many developmental opportunities for new and exciting adventure/eco-/agri-tourist businesses. Contact Vernon Tourism for more information.

In the accommodation, food and beverage sector there are approximately 208 businesses. Competition in this sector is intense for both customers and staff, however, demand for services continues to increase.

Tourist Room Revenue - North Okanagan
2004 $19,759,000
2005 $22,546,400
2006 $23,799,200
2007 $26,538,900
2008 $21,286,900

Source: BC Stats Census

Share of Room Revenue by Accommodation Type 2007
Hotel 50.9%
Motel 28.6%
Vacation rental/Other 20%

Source: Quarterly Regional Statistics 2008


As the population ages and the "prevention" concept expands there will be an increasing need for health services. However, how the work is done and who will do it will change. The changing economic climate, rapid technological advances, and restructuring efforts will all contribute to this different way of doing business. Besides typical public sector jobs associated with health, there are many opportunities in the private sector part of the BC health care industry. This area is made up of companies that make and sell medical devices, equipment and supplies, health informatics, tele-health, pharmaceuticals and other bio-technology health products.

The industry is made up of public sector organizations, specialized private sector companies and industry associations. In addition, between the public and private sectors there are many organizations that provide a service to the industry such as coordination, promotion, training and education, research and other related services. Like so many other parts of the economy, the health sector is undergoing major changes in its structure. Overall, total employment is expected to increase faster than the rest of the economy, although there will be variations by occupation.

The nature of work done in health and social services will continue to change as new methods are used to deliver care. A demonstration of this change is hospitals, which have had the slowest growth rate of any part of the health industry. They are still growing, but their share of the total is decreasing. According to the Statistics Canada Census information, 4,435 people in the North Okanagan are working in health related employment.

Controlling health care spending is a top priority in BC. With the prospect of explosive growth in the older population needing care, how will costs be held down? The answer to that question suggests which health occupations offer the best prospects in the years ahead. The emphasis on outpatient care has already spurred demand for home health and rehabilitation personnel, especially in the private sector.

Self-employment is most common among physicians, dentists, psychologists and other professionals - but this is changing. Growth of self-employment is expanding to almost all occupational areas in this field. Innovative, creative niche markets are developing throughout the Okanagan. Those that can serve the home-care market are doing well. Registered nurses are finding that almost everything they do can be done on a contract basis. Other examples are dental hygienists, any "alternative" therapy, and sales - such as "Home Orthopedic Services".

The scope of Health Technology is not yet known. An extensive telecommunications network and excellent research and development capabilities are advancing the province's technology, delivery and software applications. With these changes it is reasonable to expect that some new methods will be used to deliver health services.

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