Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rupert positioned for growth according to the latest Economic check up

Praveen Vohora continues to find positive trends for the North coast economy, as he releases the annual BC Check Up regional report for the Chartered Accountants of BC.

For the last few years now, the Prince Rupert accountants reports have sought out the positive trends in the local economy, as can be seen from our archived accounts of the yearly reviews and his other thoughts on the local economic picture.

November 2008— Finance expert looks on the bright side
June 2008— Northern Economy is finding strength in diversity
August 2008- Vohora optimistic about economic growth
May 2007— Dollars flowing back into the region
October 2006— Jobs and new business rebound in the Northwest

This year’s offering examines how the local business community and local industry has diversified to battle the troubled times of the recession. With the port playing a much more prominent role in the economy now, the report suggests that we will soon be positioned for a long awaited growth period once the troubling economic times return to more positive trends.

City official Bob Thompson seems to agree with the positive vibes, pointing to housing starts in the city as an indication of better times to come. Thompson says that at the moment there are lots of houses being built in town, compared to a few years ago when there was nothing happening on the building front. He also believes that the city is poised for growth in the future, with an expectation of sizable development in the area.

While the trends may seem positive, on the streets it may seem like a different picture, what with the large number of empty storefronts and seemingly fewer job options to choose from than in the years of the past.

Locals may be hoping that these rosy predictions soon come to pass, so that we can all share in this anticipated period of growth that apparently keeps popping up on our radar. Many are probably wondering if the statistics, evaluations and pronouncements and such are going to move on from the prospects phase to the delivery phase shortly.

The Daily News outlined some of the details in the 2009 review in the Thursday paper.

Economic diversity in Rupert holds against the recession
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Page two

Local accountant Praveen Vohora believes that steps taken by local business interests to diversify the city's economy will payoff handsomely whenever the economic recession eases.

As documented in Vohora's BC Check-up, Regional Edition, published by the Chartered Accountants of B.C., the North Coast region saw positive results for employment numbers, capital investment, business incorporations, and business bankruptcies in 2008.

"The generation of new economic opportunities in the North Coast in recent years -[Fairview] container ship facility, the Prince Rupert Cruise Ship Terminal, and another year of strong mineral exploration - helped to buffer the region against the economic downturn," said Vohora.

According to Vohora, northwest B.C.'s economy had the highest rate of job creation in the province last year, at 6.3 per cent.

All of this growth took place in the services-producing sector, but the biggest industry increase was in public work.

The most significant increases were in health care and social assistance (1,000 jobs), public administration (800 jobs), followed by accommodation and food services (500 jobs), and transportation and warehousing (200 jobs).

The Port of Prince Rupert's cruise business drove gains in the accommodation and food services sector.

The total economic impact of cruise industry in Prince Rupert is mated to have exceeded $10 million in 2008.

However, to date, cruise ship has declined in 2009 and may stay way for the next three years, reported Vohora.

"That said, the Port now plays important role in our region.

While employment in the transportation and warehousing industry in the Northwest has been in a down trend for over two years, a surge of employment during the summer of 2008 pushed annual employment he said.

The volume of goods through the Port of Prince Rupert increased moderately over 2007, despite a global economic downturn that resulted in declining traffic through most other North American ports on the west coast.

"In addition, the container facility's loading and unloading times are significantly faster than many other Ports. The industry has taken note, and as the world trade traffic increases, Prince Rupert will definitely be on the radar screen of both shipping lines and their customers," reported Vohora.

While the positive 2008 North Coast numbers were affected by the 2009 economic recession, in Prince Rupert the gross value of construction permits has remained flat for the first five months.

Based on a statistical analysis on a five-year average that excludes 2008, which includes the construction of the new Acropolis Manor, the average gross value of building permits in Prince Rupert from January to May is $2.9 million since 2004.

Through the first five months of this year, Prince Rupert saw $3.02 million in building permits, a slight increase.

The totals include residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and accessory construction projects.

Right now, the city's general manager of engineering and public works, Bob Thompson, said that he estimates there are three-to-four new house projects on every year.

"For a long time we had no new housing being built in Prince Rupert and now if you go around there are a lot of houses being built," said Thompson.

Thompson said that the gross value figures are not the only way city staff reads the statistics. It can look at the gross value of building permits or it can look at how many building permits the city has through out the community.

"We look at it from a workload perspective, sometimes," said Thompson.

Thompson added that the workload would be expected to increase through the construction of phase II of the container expansion and the construction of a logistical road, which the city of Prince Rupert has already committed to helping the port attain.

"We are very nicely positioned for growth," said Thompson. "You can't hold back the west coast of Canada forever.

"At some point it is going to break loose and there is going to be sizeable development in this area of the country."

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