Tech Brew is a monthly meeting in Penticton that creates a relaxed environment for tech workers to meet and discuss topics of interest. Western News file photo

Tech is a growing industry in the Okanagan

Innovators and developers are flocking to the Okanagan

When it comes to jobs in the tech industry, the Okanagan Valley and Penticton have a lot to offer.

According to a 2016 report from tech incubator Accelerate Okanagan, 7,600 people are employed by the Okanagan technology sector, with an overall economic impact of $1.3 billion.

Related: Okanagan Centre for Innovation opens its doors

Innovators and developers are flocking to the Okanagan, and more jobs are being created all the time.

There are hardware developers like XCO, where Scott McMillan and his team are developing a sophisticated system for tracking athlete movement and performance, wirelessly. It’s also got applications in health care and robotics.

“That’s a brand new technology developed here in Penticton,” said Nick Vincent, co-founder of Cowork Penticton. “I see a growth in hardware and actual tech innovation, but also in software development.

“There are a lot more developers, freelance developers, moving here.”

Related: Making jobs more accessible to everyone

When Vincent moved to Penticton, he continued to manage his business in Australia remotely. He says that for people working remotely or right here at home, Penticton has all the resources you need, including massively high internet bandwidth.

“I think Penticton is an attractive place to make your start,” said Vincent. “I think growth is going to continue. I am pleased to see all the new housing being built around town. That is going to make it a more attractive location for people who are used to a more urban lifestyle. It is going to attract people from cities.”

Related: Young professionals benefit from small businesses

Keith MacIntyre of Big Bear Software recently hosted a meeting with Chris Heivly of the Techstars global accelerator program, which is developing a community roadmap for the tech startup ecosystem. The Okanagan is one of only five regions around the world selected for the project.

“Compared to five years ago, not only are there more jobs here, but there is more talent,” said MacIntyre, adding that compared to when he came to Penticton seven years ago, there are more opportunities.

“As a whole, Penticton is in a bit of a boom right now,” said MacIntyre. “It’s a combination of a number of factors. Accelerate Okanagan is hitting a maturity point now. We are definitely getting spill off from that. We can access their resources out of Penticton which helps startups and the mentorship.”

MacIntyre said he is seeing an influx of people from larger cities, moving here for the lifestyle.

“And why not? I can be on my bike and be riding through vineyards in five minutes.”

If you are looking for a new start through education or employment visit the Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair, which takes places on Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Kelowna Curling Club (551 Recreation Ave.), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more info: facebook.com/BlackPressExtremeEducationandCareerFair

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