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Recent reports paint positive economic picture for Prince George

Out with the old, in with the new. In the foreground the new Hyatt Place Hotel rises up, while the old Days Inn Hotel in the background is demolished to make way for a new downtown pool. Recent studies indicate that the city’s economy will continue its trend of modest growth over the next few years. City of Prince George photo

Two recently published studies are being hailed by the city as positive economic news for Prince George.

A study published earlier this week by the Conference Board of Canada forecasts that the city’s economy will continue its trend of modest growth over the next few years despite recent negative news from B.C.’s forest industry. Similarly, a new study published by the City of Prince George and conducted by MDB Insight from Vancouver also features an optimistic forecast for the local economy and businesses in the city while providing recommended strategies for attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

“Both studies provide detailed information for businesses and residents about what we are already seeing on the ground here in Prince George,” said Melissa Barcellos, Manager of Economic Development with the City of Prince George, in a news release. “Despite the very real difficulties in the forest industry, Prince George’s diversified economy is resilient and we are even seeing modest gains in important economic indicators. As would be expected, there are some signs that the issues in the forest industry are tugging numbers down, but on the whole, these reports provide very positive signs and information for investors, businesses, and residents.”

After growing by a modest 1.3 per cent in 2018, Prince George’s economy is expected to pick up the pace and expand by 1.5 per cent this year and a further 1.7 per cent in 2020 according to the Conference Board study.

The report notes other positive developments including:

  • The region’s unemployment rate edged down from 5.2 per cent last year to 4.9 per cent this year and is forecast to hold steady at 5.1 per cent in 2020.
  • The region had near record housing starts in 2018 and building permit values continue to be very robust in 2019.

The study also notes that the struggling forestry sector will weigh on local industry, but indicates that a resolution to the U.S–Canada softwood lumber dispute would provide welcome relief to the region’s forestry sector. The Conference Board report can be viewed on the City website.

Prince George’s economy is poised for continued growth as the economy thrives with new investments, projected population growth, and adaptation influenced by global economic shifts including growth in the services sector, and modern industry, according to the study published by the City of Prince George and conducted by MDB Insight.

The study, which included a comprehensive survey of local businesses, in order to inform and support local businesses and the City to grow and strengthen the local workforce.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Most Prince George businesses have short-term plans to hire new employees (78 per cent in the next year, 84 per cent in the next two years).
  • Over 85 per cent of businesses indicate a skilled workforce is important for current operations and future growth.
  • Most businesses identified barriers to hiring and retaining employees.

Recommendations of the report are designed to inform local businesses of best and promising practices for talent attraction and retention, inform on strategies to retain post-secondary graduates in order to grow the labour pool and local population, and strengthen business competitiveness.

The full report can be found online on the City website.

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