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Business Opportunities in Northern B.C.


​Capitalizing on economic growth in the region

Over the past five years, northwest B.C. has been thriving. Numerous large industrial projects have brought more business and people to the region, and investors are finding that the excellent transportation infrastructure and lower cost of land mean that it makes logistical and financial sense to be here. Although economic activity has slowed in recent months, the factors that make this part of the province attractive from an investment perspective remain the same, and it continues to be a viable option for anyone interested in moving or expanding operations or simply investing here.

Last year at this time, we would have been talking about the ramp-up for construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other large industrial projects that have been on the books for some time. Today, these projects remain on the horizon, and the horizon keeps getting pushed back. While this creates some uncertainty for the next year or two, northwest B.C. has enough to offer – including the nearest port to Asia and the third-largest port on the West Coast – that investment continues, and these large projects continue to drive local economic activity.

Recently, regional, national and multinational companies have taken notice. This has led to local businesses having the opportunity to merge with larger firms. Some examples from Terrace include Entrec purchasing a local crane operator, Westland Insurance purchasing a local insurance firm, Stantec purchasing an environmental firm, Hatch partnering with a local engineering firm and Allteck taking over a local electrical and power contractor.

Offshore interest has also been significant, with two Korean groups purchasing local hotels and a Vancouver-based Chinese investment firm buying nearly 1,200 acres of industrial land from the City of Terrace with the intention of building an alfalfa processing plant and other manufacturing facilities. It’s interesting to note that three new hotels are bringing an estimated 300 new hotel beds to Terrace within the next year, indicating that the hospitality industry sees much promise in the region.

Even MNP has got into the game. In the last 18 months, our firm merged with new offices in Prince George, Vanderhoof and Terrace. Seeing the amount of potential growth taking place, MNP felt it was a good time to invest and became the first national accounting and business consulting firm to establish an office in northwestern B.C. when it entered the Terrace market this past February.

There are many options for potential investors. The choice depends on your level of risk tolerance. For example, you can look at investing in companies directly servicing LNG projects, which is likely a higher-risk investment. Another option is to look at opportunities in sectors that are experiencing slower but more stable growth, such as forestry and hospitality.

If you’re considering investing here, be sure to do your due diligence on the potential transaction. Have a formal valuation done so you have a good starting point from which you can consider other factors, such as the potential strategic fit with your existing business interests. You should also consider various ways to structure the deal, such as whether it will be a share or asset purchase, and whether you want the existing management team to remain. Another opportunity for investment in the future of northern B.C. can be found working and/or partnering with the First Nations in the region. The First Nations of the northwest are rapidly increasing their economic capacity and expertise and will play significant roles in any large-scale industrial projects in the region.

How do you find out which opportunities are available? It depends on what you’re looking for. If you have a business and want to increase your presence in northern B.C., research similar firms in the area and start a discussion. If you are looking for an investment opportunity and are open to considering different industries, start building a network of local contacts who can introduce you to potential opportunities.

MNP can help facilitate some of these relationships, as we are often aware of potential opportunities through our local clients and contacts. It’s also helpful to connect with local economic development organizations that may be aware of other opportunities. As a business advisor who lives and works in the region, I am proud to support the community and look forward to helping clients and investors capitalize on our growing opportunities.

To capitalize on your opportunities, contact Michael Johnson, CPA, CA, he is a business advisor with MNP LLP based in Terrace, B.C., at 250.635.4925 or
[email protected]