By Korie Marshall

An investment firm is looking to bring immigrants who want to start businesses and live in Canada to Valemount. Representatives from GITC were in Valemount in December and again last week, meeting with the Village and the mayor.

GITC is an investment firm that offers services to help investors who want to come to Canada find investment opportunities and navigate BC’s Provincial Nominee Program and immigration system. They have offices in the US and Canada, as well as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain. Right now, GITC is looking for investment opportunities in Valemount, and seeing lots of potential – both for the community and for their clients

GITC’s mission statement on their Canadian website says they work closely with municipal and provincial governments to secure investors for long term projects that guarantee a high return.

“We are committed to bringing foreign investment to the Canadian market and to enhancing Canada’s socioeconomic sustainability and culture of innovation through immigration,” they say on the website.

Their “Why Canada?” page says Canada is one of the best places in the world to live, is multicultural, safe and stable, with excellent health care and a mix of urban living and an abundance of untouched nature.

Their partnership page says they are developing long-term relationships with Prince George, Valemount and Mackenzie, and they have initiated GITC Power (renewable energy), GITC Agriculture, GITC Infrastructure, GITC Real Estate and GITC Franchise. They say they will “work efficiently and strategically with local governments to help boost the development and sustainability of their municipalities.”

“It seems like it could be a fruitful relationship,” Mayor Andru McCracken told the Goat in an interview. He says he’s been talking to people about the idea of middle-eastern people who are interested in investing and opening businesses in Valemount, and he’s been happy to hear positive responses from residents.

McCracken says GITC has been involved in helping people immigrate to Canada, but never to a community as small as Valemount. He thinks there may be some cultural things the Village should think about long term, especially if the program takes off, but bringing people here is part of the Village’s survival strategy. He says Valemount has been unintentionally experimenting with how few people it takes to keep a community alive, but investment like this could change that.

“Our economic development strategy is simply a strategy to create a thriving community,” says McCracken. “So if you bring people here, that is what we want.”

He says part of the provincial and federal requirements of the Provincial Nominee Program’s business investment stream is immigrants need to become part of the community economically, and investing in housing may be one key part.

“Economic development – it’s people choosing to shop locally, where we have excellent products and services,” says McCracken. “It’s everybody’s work, and this will be another opportunity for us.”

But it is still early days, McCracken cautions. He is optimistic about the prospects, and Council has provided a letter of confirmation to GITC’s investors that the Village supports immigration, and that the projects presented to GITC are valid.

There is no official word yet on what those projects are, though the Council agenda notes one strategic priority that is aligned is geothermal development.

Jobs were briefly posted on the Learning Centre’s job board, and GITC conducted interviews on Wednesday with local applicants. A local real estate agent could not confirm this week if GITC had yet purchased property here, but word was they were looking at several properties.

The Goat was hoping to get an interview with Amal Asfour, General Manager of GITC while she was in Valemount last week, but could not reach her. Asfour had not returned our calls by press time.

BC’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) helps employers attract and retain foreign workers, but it also helps foreign entrepreneurs invest in BC and create jobs. The PNP website says the business stream of the program can accelerate the permanent residence application process for people who can establish themselves in BC and develop a business that provides economic benefits to the province.

You can apply to the PNP as a business immigrant in one of three categories according to their website.

To apply in the Entrepreneur category you must start or purchase and expand a business anywhere in B.C.; have a personal net worth of at least $800,000; intend to invest at least $400,000 in (and acquire at least one-third equity ownership of) the business; commit to creating at least three new jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents; and propose one key staff member on your application.

To apply in The Regional Entrepreneur category, you must start or purchase and expand a business outside of the Vancouver and Abbotsford metropolitan areas; You have a personal net worth of at least $400,000; You intend to invest at least $200,000 in (and acquire at least one-third equity ownership of) the business. You can commit to creating at least one new job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

To apply in the Strategic Projects category, your company must set up a B.C.-based operation (such as a branch office or subsidiary) anywhere in the province; the company makes an equity investment of at least $500,000 in the business; You propose up to five key staff members on the application and you can commit to create at least three new jobs for each key staff member.