A Positive Return

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It’s no secret that the West Kootenays have directly benefited from the rapid and unrelenting real estate rise in the lower mainland. Entrepreneurs looking for a fresh start and attractive foundation to launch their ventures from are attracted to our region for its engaging lifestyle, affordable housing, world class talent, strong business infrastructure, and available resources. But there is a new breed of industry disruptors who are arriving to start something new – the returning local.

Roger and Mary Austin are two Rossland locals who epitomize that description. Located in Trail, BC, Austin Engineering Ltd. (AEL) offers geotechnical, civil, structural and hydrotechnical engineering, and specialize in dam safety and hydropower. Roger immigrated here from South Africa, moving to Rossland to attend high school and her family has now been here for five generations. Although both took the opportunity to get their education in the “city” and work abroad, their personal connections to the region eventually brought them back home to settle down in the West Kootenays.

We recently met with Rodger and Mary to discuss why they chose Metal Tech Alley as a location to run their company Austin Engineering, the benefits of doing business in the Kootenays, and advice for those considering moving here.

Why live here?

As parents, both mentioned the importance of being close to family and how key a strong community is. “I tell my children regularly how lucky they are that they live in a community where everyone has chosen to be here.” Says Mary. “Many of the people that live here, with their skills and experience, could pursue a career, a life, anywhere in the world. But they chose here because of the availability of a fulfilling career in an incredibly affordable and safe environment.”

What about doing business in the area?

Both recount moments of local politicians, people on the street, and fellow business owners showing their support and encouragement. “In the city, businesses come and go and few people really take notice. Here, everyone cares, they want you to expand, they want you to succeed.”

Advice for those, new and returning, looking to launch a new business?

“There are so many opportunities here.” Says Mary, when asked why entrepreneurs should consider turning their attention to the area. “It’s more than just lifestyle and affordable housing that you should look at, I firmly believe we are the last pro-business community in the western world.”  When asked to expand, Mary again returned to local support. “People support and respect business (here). They trust it.”

What they have learned doing business from the Kootenays.

Roger and Mary have never lost sight of what is important when dealing with clients. “We believe in meeting people face to face whenever possible.” Explains Roger. “Boots on the ground is key in earning a client’s trust. We appreciate how important a handshake is out here and we take that to our clients everywhere.”

In Metal Tech Alley you’ll find a supportive community, businesses creating personal relationships with clients, and an environment that is both affordable and offers a world class lifestyle.

Metal Tech Alley is the new game-changing economic development marketing program whose aim is to promote the story of the West Kootenay region’s evolution into a highly attractive and competitive location for business and livability, with a major focus on the global business and innovation clusters that are leading economic and business change—not just in the region but from a global perspective. Situated in the South-Eastern part of British Columbia, it is a cluster of great minds and opportunities pioneering the Fourth Industrial Revolution with leadership in metallurgical science, industrial recycling and the Internet of Things (IoT). Designed by the regional economic development office, Lower Columbia Initiatives (LCIC) is committed to a cohesive, comprehensive, region-wide approach to the challenges and opportunities of economic development in the Lower Columbia Region.

Interested in learning more about what this area may be able to offer you or your business?

Check out www.metaltechalley.com for information on current business news, regional resources, and local initiatives.


Contact Terry Van Horn, LCIC Executive Director

250-364-6461 / tvanhorn@lcic.ca


Written and Compiled by

Sean Smillie – http://planetfictionstudios.com/

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