High Tech Jobs are the Future, Report Says

By Annie Ellison
Published: April 12, 2014

The Squamish Valley won’t be turning into the next Silicon Valley quite yet — but it’s getting a start.

A job growth projection report in the Squamish Lillooet Regional District predicts the high tech field will be the second-fastest growing industry next to public sector jobs by 2031.  

The report, conducted by Vann Struth Consulting Group, predicts a 60 per cent growth in tech jobs by 2031.

Jessica Palmer -MAIN

Blonde Blonde Creative Studios owner Jessica Palmer says her business gives her the freedom to live and work in Squamish.

That extrapolates to an estimated 645 local and permanent high tech jobs in the region.

Squamish-based companies in the web and graphic design, social media management, technological consulting, and engineering fields are growing in the region because of industry professionals’ ability to work remotely. Anywhere with a wireless connection will do.

Blonde Blonde Creative Studios founder Jessica Palmer is a textbook example of the Squamish tech entrepreneur.

“I have clients living in Virginia, Calgary, you can get a client anywhere in the world. It’s a way to live in a small town,” she said.

Palmer initially commuted to Vancouver for a graphic design job, but soon started up her own studio.

She said a 2.5 per cent per year growth rate, as is projected in the Vann Struth report, is a conservative estimate.

The report also predicts 22 “spinoff” jobs for every 100 permanent jobs in the tech industry.

“Say I get a client that needs a site. From that I can hire a photographer, a social media expert, a copy-writer, a coder, a programmer,” said Palmer.

Inside Edge board member and Sevolution consultant Chris Pettingill said the tech sector will grow no matter what, because of the lifestyle in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. Simply put, people will always want to live here and will create jobs for themselves.

There is good access to the city, and infrastructure for a high-speed fibre internet connection leftover from the Olympics.

But, what the town needs is a directory of all the startups to build a community of tech businesses that can support each other, said Pettingill.

Pettingill is calling for a comprehensive digital strategy from the District.

“If you set that direction, it tells people and private industry where we want to go as a town,” he said. 

For instance, a potential Woodfibre LNG plant in Squamish would create permanent jobs in the tech industry as well as the resource sector.

Jamie Vann Struth, the principal author of the report, said most tech startups in the Sea-to-Sky corridor employ between one and five people. Although the number of people employed is not huge, the growth rate is considerable, he said.

Other sectors identified in the report to have high growth projections include construction, tourism, non-resource manufacturing, agriculture and food.

The report predicts 68,200 people will be living in the SLRD by 2031.




  1. Jaspera says:

    What a gratuitous comment! Who says the LNG Woodfibre project will provide high tech jobs? How may? At what real, accounted for, well analyzed costs and benefits? How many jobs will be removed from Squamish when people decide they don’t want to live in a smelly, possibly re-contaminated place while paying up-rising property taxes? How many people will decide they want to leave Squamish before their property values decline and collapse because of converting Squamish into an odiferous (rather an “Epic” ) town? Has anyone, especially our benighted government officials at all levels, actually costed out the real costs -to the humans and their health, the waters, lands and skies, the biodiversity – of this project which is being pushed down Squamishians’ throats.

  2. Brad Hodge says:

    Nothing wrong with hi-tech, but also keep the door open to diversity, including more conventional industry. I understand and sympathize with those who wish to keep their views and air pristine. That is a position some can afford, having in demand skills and a job perhaps in the city. But there are also folks here who do not have those skills and they deserve a spot in the community also. If we reject all industry exclusively in favor of ‘rec-tec’, we condemn these people to living at the margins on low wage jobs. Squamish needs to be open to all and that will involve some compromises many of us may not like, but will need to make to ensure we don’t become an un-gated gated community for a highly educated, higher than average net worth elite.