Kelowna Economy: What’s it Like?

Kelowna and the Central Okanagan are two communities in Canada that are regularly recognized as the fastest growing and most entrepreneurial. Both are also an economic driver and a hub for innovation in Western Canada.

Clearly, Kelowna’s economy is a great one. It heavily depends on its tree fruit industry that is thriving. Combined with forestry, high tech, manufacturing, and tourism industries, the city is booming.

Employment here is high, especially in the top 5 employment industries:

  1. Health Care
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Technology
  4. Agriculture
  5. Tourism

Understanding Kelowna’s Business Landscape

There are 2 major reasons the local economy is thriving and growing rapidly in the area.

Infrastructure

Kelowna and the Central Okanagan will not be the largest trading center between Alberta and greater Vancouver without the infrastructure that supports business connectivity. 

Advanced agriculture, manufacturing, and technology are supported by the following infrastructures:

  • Accelerate Okanagan
  • City of Kelowna’s Dark Fibre Network
  • Kelowna International Airport
  • Kelowna General Hospital
  • Okanagan Centre for Innovation
  • Okanagan College
  • University of British Columbia Okanagan

All these drives innovative growth to the aforementioned industries.

Proximity to Markets

Kelowna and the Central Okanagan are located between Vancouver, BC and Calgary, AB, the two powerhouses of Canada. And within a range of 900km or within a day’s journey by road from them is a regional market with consumers that exceed 11.4 million.

This is why it is the largest trading area in British Columbia’s interior.

Moreover, Kelowna is voted #1 location to open a small business in British Columbia, according to a 2018 poll conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). CFIB used secret shoppers to gather data and the city made the top spot with a score of 86 out of 100.

Let’s talk employment

When it comes to jobs, most of the career opportunities are available in the top key industries in Kelowna.

Health Care

In Central Okanagan, healthcare accounted for 26% of all job vacancies in 2017. The Southern Medical Clinical Academic Campus of the University of British Columbia and the Kelowna General Hospital fuels the high demand of jobs in the industry.

Manufacturing

diverse and well-represented best describe the manufacturing sector in Central Okanagan. This is thanks largely to some of the world’s biggest manufacturing firms that call the area home. These include the largest manufacturer of fiberglass water slides in the world Whitewater West, and the largest private employer in the region KF Aerospace. The area is also seeing an increase of smaller companies setting up shop.

Technology

In 2017, the tech sector made an economic impact of $1.7 billion in the Okanagan. QHR Technologies, Disney Interactive, and other industry leaders are some of the major drivers in the sector. Through Accelerate Okanagan, there’s also a growing number of innovative start-ups, what with the organization’s mission to support tech-enabled businesses.

Agriculture

Sun-Rype is Kelowna’s largest manufacturing company of fruit bars and fruit juice and plays an integral part of the local economy. But even small-scale family farms help fuel industry growth and sustainability.

Tourism

Each winter, employment in world-class ski resorts in Kelowna increases. As a top destination for visitors in Canada, however, tourism jobs are available all year round. In 2016, Tourism Kelowna reported that the sector had an overall direct economic impact of $810 million and generated more than 8,000 jobs.

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