British Columbia has been gaining a lot of attention in business circles around the world for good reason. An expected $15 billion of private and public investments by 2015 - in seaport, rail, air, and road developments - will sustain the province's position as a leading gateway for containers, bulk products, and people between North America and Asia. U.S. companies focused on business development in Asia are thinking now about British Columbia as their jumping off point to the strategic opportunities in China, Japan, and Korea.
Additionally, preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games - to be held in Vancouver and Whistler between February 12 and March 21 - are creating huge opportunities for business development. Suppliers of everything from foundations to flowers are coming to British Columbia - spurred by both immediate demands and the long-term potential of being in a competitive location basking in worldwide attention.
In fact, since December 2001, 371,400 jobs have been created in British Columbia, and job growth is forecasted to continue at over 3 percent per year. Sustenance of the expanding work force is being achieved through aggressive strategies for advanced education and training, targeted immigration of skilled workers, and recruitment from other parts of Canada. Manufacturers of fabricated metal products, computers and electronics, and transportation equipment saw their gains in 2006 carried into 2007.
The government of British Columbia continues to fine-tune the climate for business growth. Since 2001, 31 provincial tax relief measures have been implemented. British Columbia's corporate tax rate ranks among the lowest in Canada and the United States. Personal income taxes were further reduced in April 2007. For annual incomes up to $108,000 per year, the province has the lowest levels of personal income tax in Canada. All the while, growth in revenues has allowed increased funding to healthcare, education, apprenticeship training, and social services. Both Moody's and Standard & Poor's rate British Columbia's credit at AAA.
Once again in 2007, Vancouver - British Columbia's largest city - earned top marks on international rankings of the world's most livable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit (#1), Mercer Human Resource Consulting (#3), and Condé Nast (#4).
British Columbia's resource based industries (forestry, mining, fishing, food) continue to be world-class in scale and competitiveness. However, technology industries now account for about the same number of provincial jobs as the resource-based industries. British Columbia's universities and development centers ensure a continuous flow of new brain power and innovation in technologies as varied as life sciences, fuel cells, wireless communications, digital media, advanced manufacturing, information technologies, and financial services.
This fall, Microsoft will open a software development center expected to scale up to 800 employees. It will be one of only three development centers that Microsoft operates outside of its head-office location. Microsoft views Vancouver as an ideal location from which to access and attract the best and brightest talent from around the world. It joins Oracle, E-Bay, IBM, McKesson, and many other major software developers in British Columbia's burgeoning technology industry. This latest development is just a harbinger of more growth to come.