South Island Prosperity Partnership claims three big wins

Behind-the-scenes work by the South Island Prosperity Partnership is paying off as three new firms have established offices in Victoria as a result of the efforts of the economic development agency.

Yukon software developer Proof, artificial-intelligence firm Element Human from the United Kingdom and Marka Developments from Brazil have now established space in the city and are looking to expand.

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“It’s a big win for us and for the region,” said SIPP interim CEO Bruce Williams, who pointed out the new firms are a result of two to three years worth of work to sell the region and enable relationships with potential clients and suppliers. “This is an indication the region is on the radar of companies looking to locate in Canada, in B.C. and in Victoria.”

Williams said this kind of announcement is the result of building momentum.

“Economic development is a slow burn. You plant a seed and it takes a while before people come around and pull the trigger,” he said. “It’s paying off now, and there’s more to come.”

According to Kieran Buggy, business concierge with SIPP, all three firms had been referred to SIPP to help the transition to Victoria, though all had different reasons for choosing the Island.

Buggy said Proof, which offers digitizing services, wanted to be close to government clients. Element Human saw the chance to grow in a vibrant tech ecosystem that was close enough to Seattle, but still in Canada. Marka cited environment and work-life balance.

Matt Celuszak, CEO of Element Human, said the environment played a part in his decision. “The work-life balance is hard to beat. In 15 or 20 minutes you’re out of town hiking a mountain,” he said.

Ben Sanders, CEO of Proof, added he was “captivated by the breathtaking wilderness in every direction, the palpable commitment to sustainability and the supportive community.”

But Victoria does have its problems, chief among them for new firms are the lack of affordable housing and a shortage of skilled workers.

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