Economist says Kamloops should have moderate growth over next half-decade

Venture Kamloops commissioned Ernst and Young to conduct a comprehensive study of the city’s economy, including the future as cannabis and high-tech industries emerge

Kamloops’ economy is strong and will likely continue to grow moderately over the next five years, according to a local economist.

“We do find that Kamloops does have a diverse industry mix and it’s quite healthy,” Ernst and Young economist Mauricio Zelaya said.

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Venture Kamloops commissioned Ernst and Young to conduct a comprehensive study of the city’s economy, including the future as cannabis and high-tech industries emerge.

Venture Kamloops — the city’s economic-development arm — previously conducted “what-if-scenario” studies and the new study will act as a baseline.

“We have known for some time that we enjoy a fairly stable economy in Kamloops,” Venture Kamloops executive director Jim Anderson said.

“This tells us why and, further, it tells us how. It tells us what sectors contribute to the economic diversity and what sectors are heavily weighted in the employment share and the total number of employees.”

The report notes the city has a “well-educated population coupled with a healthy average household income.”

Close to two-thirds of the city’s working population holds a post-secondary degree, including in engineering (14 per cent), business (12 per cent), health (11 per cent), sciences (nine per cent) and humanities (eight per cent).

“Kamloops is reasonably diverse and appears to be more diverse than cities such as Kelowna, but less diverse than major metropolitan areas,” Zelaya said.

Real GDP dollars are expected to grow by about two per cent through 2022 and the average income per household is expected to rise to $112,000.

That compares to $77,000 in 2011 and $100,000 in 2018.

The population, meanwhile, is expected to grow about one per cent each year.

Anderson cited that growth as one surprise in the report, noting multi-family dwellings on the rise and constant construction around town.

“But you have to look historically,” he said. “We’ve had booms and we’ve had minor busts.”

Meanwhile, burgeoning industries are expected to have an impact.

Kamloops is home to the province’s first recreational cannabis shop — and more are on the way.

Assuming 10 recreational cannabis stores open in Kamloops, with about three full-time positions each, Ernst and Young estimates the industry could result in 36 jobs (when also including spinoff jobs resulting from those stores) and about $4.8 million in operational spending from the businesses.

“But we expect, based on our analysis, that some of that would be leakages based on using businesses outside of the City of Kamloops to support their activities,” Zelaya said.

The tech sector, meanwhile, produces jobs that have “knowledge spillover effects,” Zelaya said, meaning employees with tech experience can jump to other businesses and benefit them.

“It would help the city going forward,” he said.

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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