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Federal government invests $6.4 million into Southern Interior businesses

The Southern Interior’s growing tech sector is getting a boost from the federal government.

International Development Minister Harijit Sajjan was in Kelowna, B.C., Wednesday morning, announcing the launch of two new PacifiCan offices opening in Kelowna and Cranbrook.

“Kelowna is also like a hub for the wider rural region and we’re seeing examples of this,” said Sajjan. “What we want to do now is have economic growth here but also attract international business to this area and grow this opportunity.”

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PacifiCan is a federal economic development agency that focuses on supporting British Columbians. The agency also announced that in addition to the new offices, investments will be made into numerous projects throughout the region including a local company that produces biodegradable plastic products.

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“Over $6.4 million in PacifiCan funding for another four dynamic businesses right here in the Southern Interior. Pela, based in Kelowna, is receiving over $3.6 million to reduce plastic waste from consumer products,” said Sajjan.

A $190,000 investment is also being made into a heavy equipment company Vernon’s Great West Equipment.

Fenix Advanced Materials located in Trail received $1 million for the development of medical imaging and nuclear security technology.

An investment of $1.86 million is being made to Valid Manufacturing which supports the electrification and production of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles.

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Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas says the opening of a new PacifiCan office in the city will allow for further development into Kelowna’s growing tech sector.

“Similar to what the Innovation Centre has done is similar to what this office is trying to establish — an area where people can go and communicate with individuals who have knowledge, so they can understand the processes and make it simpler on them while they’re trying to grow their business,” said Dyas.

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One of the goals of the investment is to attract people to the Southern Interior while creating new employment and economic opportunities.

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“We’re very strong when it comes to supporting woman entrepreneurship. We want to make sure the under-represented groups like the LGBTQ community, and let’s not forget the BIPOC community as well. That diversity piece is a significant opportunity for us,” Sajjan said.

“The linkage that you have with the university and the innovation with the business community — to me, it is a significant opportunity.”

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