Earlier this year, the Merritt City Council unanimously approved a recommendation to apply for a pair of grants; the B.C Provincial Nominee Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. On Thursday the city found out it had been successful in its application.
The pilot program is designed to make it easier for foreign investors to come to Canada and more specifically to rural communities.
To enrol in the pilot, communities must have a population of fewer than 75,000 and be located 30 kilometres away from a municipality of more than 75,000. They must also identify three priority economic development sectors.
Successful applicants must maintain a minimum of 51% ownership (local partnerships are permitted) of their business and live in the community. They must also have more than three years of experience as an active business owner or more than four years as a senior manager within the last five years.
Interested foreign entrepreneurs are required to visit the community and present their business idea to make sure their business plan is consistent with the community's economic priorities.
Applicants to the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program Entrepreneur Immigration Regional Pilot must have a personal net worth of $300,000, make a minimum investment of $100,000 in a new business and create one new job.
“If we see a huge amount of business kicking tires. We will prioritize the businesses that are investing more in our local economy and the businesses that are providing more local employment over the ones coming in and just meeting those bare minimum requirements,” said Will George, Economic Development and Tourism Manager for the city of Merritt.
Community Futures here in Merritt is leading the charge on the programs and Business Analyst Manuel Olguin spoke about the pilot projects.
“The Province is launching a different pilot program targeting rural communities such as Merritt,” said Olguin. “The original program was an option for entrepreneurs to establish or buy a business anywhere in B.C. Now the pilot program is an option for entrepreneurs from other countries to come to rural communities.”
With Merritt being added to the list of possible locations for interested immigrant investors, George spoke to Q101 about the benefits to the community.
“What we’ve been told by the BC PNP program is that we should be receiving quite a few inquires and even before it was announced we received quite a few from foreign entrepreneurs looking to see what Merritt’s about and the close proximity to larger market,” said George.
Merritt is one of only two cities in the program with a close proximity to Vancouver. Due to this fact George expects the city will be inundated with potential new investors.
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