🏙️ Vancouver Economic Commission shuttered by City officials

The closure came as a shock to many of the non-profit's staff. Plus, nine other stories you may have missed.

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Last week, the City of Vancouver quietly announced that it will shutter the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC).

In a press release on Friday, the City said that it would “begin winding down and decommissioning its operations.” Key functions of the VEC, the government suggests, will be brought under the oversight of the Vancouver City Manager's Office.

The VEC was established as a non-profit society in 1995 to find ways to strengthen the city’s economic future. Its mandate involved supporting local companies, attracting foreign investment, and promoting international trade. As part of its work, VEC collaborated with other trade, businesses, and government organizations to position Vancouver as a global destination for innovative, creative, and sustainable business.

Its achievements included leading the Amazon HQ2 bid for Vancouver against hundreds of other global cities, making strides forward in cleantech through programs including Project Greenlight and investment initiatives, and designing the economic development strategy for the False Creek Flats area.

In recent years, new organizations have sprung up in the city which operate with similar aims to the VEC. Economic development agency Invest Vancouver was created in 2019 to attract investment at a regional level, and focuses on conducting economic research and policy analysis and fostering collaboration, among other goals. Independent organization Frontier Collective, with the backing of the municipal and provincial governments, took the lead on important trade missions including this year’s South by Southwest SXSW Conference in Austin: a role that was previously led by the VEC.

“I'm so incredibly proud of everything we have achieved: from bringing in over $3 billion dollars of new jobs and investment, to ensuring an Olympic economic legacy, to doubling the number of green jobs in Vancouver, to launching the Vancouver Film Commission to support the industry growing to $5 [billion], to helping make Vancouver the fastest growing tech city in North America, and to moving Vancouver's economy 'Beyond GDP' (to name just some of our impacts),” James Raymond, the VEC’s senior management of research, wrote on LinkedIn about the closure.

The shuttering came as a shock to many of the VEC employees. Of the more than 20 staff at the organization, some will leave their roles in the coming weeks, and others will remain until mid-next year, as programs are wound down and placed into the portfolio of the City Manager’s Office.

"By further integrating business support functions into the day-to-day work of City Hall, it will ensure the City optimizes these supports in a coordinated way," said City Manager Paul Mochrie.

"This move reflects the immense importance of business support and economic development to City Council," said Mayor Ken Sim. "We're focused on being business-friendly at City Hall, which means delivering services and supports in the most seamless and efficient way possible for local businesses."

According to LinkedIn, the company has not added any roles in the last six months, and the median tenure of its employees was four years and four months.

[Editor’s note: Vancouver Tech Journal editor Kate Wilson is a strategic advisor for the Frontier Collective.]

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