Positive outlook for Lower Columbia region economy

There is no bust apparent in the economic boom that is gripping the Lower Columbia region.

There is no bust apparent in the economic boom that is gripping the Lower Columbia region, according to a recent economic outlook released by the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation.

Driven by metallurgy and healthcare— with over three quarters (2,500) of those in Trail working for either Teck Trail Operations or the Interior Health Authority—the area’s residents have enjoyed wages and employment opportunities that have proven to be recession resilient.

And those industries are rosy right now, a factor that has helped Trail weather the recent financial downturn that has afflicted most areas of the West Kootenay, said Sandy Santori, the executive director of the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC).

In the LCIC’s “2012 Economic Outlook” the economic future of the region is positive, he said.

“With over $1.25 billion in projects currently underway, the 2012 Economic Outlook … can be summarized as an economic boom in the short-term, and as stable with steady incremental growth in the long-term,” Santori said.

He noted that the metallurgical sector has experienced consistent growth in Trail, bucking a trend of downsizing across the industry, as illustrated by the signing a new five-year agreement between Teck and its two biggest unions last Friday.

The economic marketing analysis done by the MMM Group out of Kelowna for the City of Trail’s “Downtown Plan” said the long history of Greater Trail’s two major employers—having gone through various economic and political cycles—suggested the employment at the two organizations was likely to remain stable.

In the downtown plan, it was noted that Teck provided over 1,500 direct jobs in 2010, contributing to a wide range of indirect and trickle-down employment opportunities in Greater Trail.

Teck’s contribution to the local economy was $200 million in 2009.

Santori also pointed to the $900-million Waneta Expansion Project, now in its second year of construction, on the new hydro-electric powerhouse and Teck’s $325-million construction initiatives—two new furnaces and a new lead-acid plant—as projects ramping up this year, likely creating many new employment opportunities.

The economy was also boosted by the performance of its regional airline, Pacific Coastal, that had a passenger load increase of 30 per cent in 2011, in part to the influx of employees and specialized expertise for the Waneta project.

It was also announced that in 2012 Pacific Coastal would increase their capacity for flights by 60 per cent to handle the anticipated additional influx of employees and visitors to the region.

LCIC is the economic development office for the Lower Columbia Region and is the result of a partnership between the City of Rossland, City of Trail, Villages of Warfield, Montrose, Fruitvale and Electoral Areas A & B of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

LCIC’s mandate is to provide economic development services within the Lower Columbia Region and to serve as the ‘first place of call’ as opportunities develop.

To view the entire 2012 Economic Outlook visit: www.lcic.ca.