Mayor on tech mission

Kelowna’s mayor is in Boulder, Colo., this week to learn the secrets of the city’s vibrant technology industry.

Boulder had six times more tech start-ups than the American average in 2010 and continues to foster new development. Kelowna’s Mayor Colin Basran, joined by Robert Fine, Kelowna’s director of business development, Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College, Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin and Jeff Keen, the former CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, is down south trying to find out what makes Boulder so special.

“We’re down here learning what it is that makes Boulder so successful in terms of the tech startup community,” Basran said by phone from Colorado. “To hopefully learn a bit about what we can do to bring that back to Kelowna and help to continue to grow our tech community."

Basran and Fine’s trip was paid for by the City of Kelowna.

The trip involves meeting various influential people within the tech community of Boulder, including the mayor, people at the University of Colorado and others who have grown the tech startup community.

“What we’ve heard is that money will go where the talent is,” Basran said. “It’s reiterated the crucial part that Okanagan College plays in this, in terms of educating people who will be able to work in tech startups.”

Basran was surprised to find that many people in Boulder are disappointed with their local government and feel it does not do enough for the tech community. 

"The people of Boulder have actually been very surprised that I’ve been down here and showing a willingness to grow tech startups in the Okanagan and in Kelowna," he said. "That hasn’t been the case here in Boulder.”

Accelerate Okanagan, an organization that supports tech startups in the Okanagan, has recently released a study outlining the tech industry in the Okanagan.

The study found that companies have the most difficulty filling software, engineering and developer roles.

Two out of five companies surveyed had an employee quit in the past two years. Forty per cent of companies offer bonuses and 46 per cent offer group benefits.


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