CBT puts economic growth plan into action

Columbia Basin Trust is putting a new plan for economic growth into action. It is purchasing a commercial building in the Waneta Industrial Park near Trail and working with a local tech industry entrepreneur to fill the facility with new jobs and new opportunities in what it sees as a model for future projects.

“The Trust’s vision for economic development is to be a leader, a catalyst and an investor,” CBT President and CEO Johnny Strilaeff said in a statement. “We want to support economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities in the Basin.

“Our intention with this project is to take a dormant facility and work with a company or companies that will fully utilize the building and the area’s workforce. This is much more than a building. The Trust is the catalyst for this entrepreneurial opportunity to bring ideas to life.”

Local technology entrepreneur Brian Fry of Rossland and his business partners, Pilar Portela and Tim Dufour, plan to create an innovation centre for their data technology company and establish a venture capital corporation to help emerging companies expand.

“The structure was originally built to leverage the world-leading metallurgical capabilities of the region,” Fry said in the statement. “Now, with the Trust’s economic development focus and patient capital, we can once again leverage these capabilities and complementary tech industry opportunities.”

Strilaeff said the CBT’s strategy is to “maximize economic opportunities in all regions of the Basin, be that through increased employment, local investment or business development. This building is an example of an asset that can help achieve that vision.”

Economic development is a high priority with residents, businesses and local governments throughout the Basin. The Trust developed a new economic development strategic framework in 2016 to take a more proactive role in growing the Basin’s economy and allocated $20 million over three years to put the strategy into action. You can learn more about the CBT’s economic initiatives at ourtrust.org/economic.

The Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1-800-505-8998.