Christopher Theeparajah, account manager of trade finance for the Vancouver Island Region for Export Development Canada , speaks at the 3rd annual Five Chamber Mixer hosted by the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce last Thursday, as president Andi Hook listens. Export Development Canada will open an office in the Greater Victoria area because of its economic growth. Theeparajah serves on board the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. (Janis Jean Photography/Submitted)

Diverse economy draws federal government branch to Greater Victoria

Export Development Canada’s Christopher Theeparajah lauds local economy

Ottawa and the timing of a real estate sale in Vancouver will determine where and when a federal office designed to help local exporters will open in Greater Victoria.

Christopher Theeparajah, account manager of trade finance for the Vancouver Island region of Export Development Canada (EDC), said it will be up to the federal government to decide where it will eventually open its Vancouver Island office.

EDC describes itself as “a financially self-sustaining” Crown corporation that serves as an export credit agency, providing various types of financial services to Canadian exporters, investors and their international buyers. The company also supports direct Canadian investment abroad and foreign investment into Canada.

Theeparajah said several communities have expressed an interest in hosting that office.

“At the end of the day, we are non-committal,” Theeparajah said. “The first step is getting myself out there, and once I have had the opportunity to react to the business climate, [setting up a permanent office] is something on the radar in the next year or so after I am out there.”

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With no firm date, Theeparajah will work out of his future home in the area. But Theeparajah has not yet moved to Vancouver Island as his arrival depends on the sale of his house on the Lower Mainland.

EDC sees Vancouver Island as a growth region.

“I have managed the Vancouver Island region from the Lower Mainland for the last five years … and over the course of the last two years specifically, I have seen a dramatic increase to the amount of economic activity I am seeing from Victoria all the way up to the Port Hardy,” he said.

This development, coupled with Vancouver Island’s designation as a foreign trade zone by the federal government last September, prompted EDC to dedicate a specific office for Vancouver Island.

The designation as a foreign trade zone grants financial incentives for foreigners investing on the Island, but also for Canadian companies operating here.

Theeparajah said the Island offers several advantages including its Pacific Rim location and Victoria’s technology sector, which he says is “growing exponentially.” The Saanich Peninsula continues to build on its manufacturing sector, while locations beyond southern Vancouver Island have flourishing aqua-culture.


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