Last month, Douglas Porter, chief economist and managing director for BMO Financial Group, told audiences at the CFA Society Vancouver’s annual forecast dinner that B.C.’s diverse economy will lead the country in economic growth through a shaky 2016. That growth likely won’t be coming from the mining or oil and gas industries, which continue to see economic hardships on a global stage. However, Vancouver is in a unique position to support a growing number of alternative industries, ones that have either recently seen explosive growth or are set to take off.
Here are five industries that could be major economic contributors to Vancouver in 2016:
It’s no secret that Vancouver has a strong and innovative tech scene. 2015 was one of our strongest years for tech startups and funding. Whether we’re talking about funds being raised like Cymax (who raised one of the largest venture capital funds of 2015 at $33 million), homegrown unicorns like Hootsuite (valued at over $1 billion), or strong stock performers like TIO Networks (listed as one of the strongest performing stocks on the TSX venture), Vancouver is one of Canada’s strongest tech markets.
“Vancouver isn’t just a desirable place to house a startup or growth-oriented tech company, it’s a dynamic ecosystem that is allowing companies to grow and dominate their industries in North America and beyond,” said Hamed Shahbazi, CEO of TIO Networks. “Vancouver’s tech industry will be a key economic engine for both the province of B.C. and the country for years to come.”
2. Green energy and sustainability
As mining and oil and gas struggle, the green economy has seen a generous upswing in interest. In fact, Vancouver’s “Green” image is worth an estimated $31 billion. With the GLOBE conference starting today, featuring a keynote address by Prime Minister Trudeau, the eyes of the world are on Vancouver’s green scene. “Metro Vancouver is home to a thriving group of clean technology companies,” said Mike Gerbis, CEO of GLOBE 2016.
“Firms like General Fusion, Axine, Chrysalix Venture Capital, Saltworks Technologies, and ElectraMeccania Vehicles are developing and financing technologies to fight climate change, purify water, reduce waste, get us around without creating pollution, and much more. The landmark Paris climate change agreement ushered in a Golden Age of climate and clean energy solutions, and Vancouver is ideally situated for innovative solutions to global challenges.”
Franchising is a surprisingly boisterous industry that many people don’t take notice of. According to a recent study by IHS Economics, the overall economic output of the franchise industry is expected to jump 5.8% to $944 billion – the fastest pace since before the Great Recession.
“Interest in franchising tends to grow during down markets, as many large companies are forced to reduce their workforce,” said Grant Bullington of FranNet. “This results in an increase in the number of folks who are in career transition, and some of them are wondering if self employment is a better option than returning to corporate.” Franchising is such a strong growth opportunity right now, there was even a conference on the subject last month.
While a low Canadian dollar generally tends to hurt many industries, when it comes tourism it often leads to some significant gains. The latest international tourism numbers from the provincial government showed an 11.1% increase for November 2015 compared to 2014. Vancouver and its surrounding areas are often referred to as some of the most desirable places on earth, and tourists are taking advantage of that recognition by visiting major destinations like Whistler and Squamish.
“The lower Canadian dollar is attractive for U.S. visitors and at the same time encourages Canadians to stay home and explore their own backyard,” said Kirby Brown, General Manager of the Sea to Sky Gondola. “Along with that, an increase in the number of flights into YVR means international visitors to B.C. is on the rise.”
5. Food and beverage
The low Canadian dollar isn’t just benefiting the tourism industry. Restaurants, too, are reaping the rewards of having increased visitors to the city, and with an already booming craft beer industry and an increased sophistication to our culinary scene, this has only served to improve the situation. 2015 was a dramatic growth year for B.C. based breweries, and with at least 20 more set for 2016, that brings the overall total to 130 breweries which not only support jobs in-house but also residual industries as well.