The Ministry of Small Business and Economic Development is the lead provincial agency responsible for seizing economic development opportunities that facilitate both investment and job creation throughout British Columbia.
The Ministry underwent significant changes during the year as it realigned its resources to put greater emphasis on promoting and fostering economic development through the utilization of long-term development strategies. Late in the fiscal year, we underwent additional changes when we acquired responsibility for the British Columbia Olympic Games Secretariat, and sports and culture. Despite a year of change, the Ministry made significant progress in the achievement of its mandate, and set the stage for even greater accomplishments in 2004/05.
In 2003/04, the Ministry made important advances in its four core business areas: removing barriers to business; providing economic policy and strategic advice; marketing and investment (including international marketing); and encouraging innovation and the development and transfer of new knowledge.
Progress is reflected in the following accomplishments:
- Repealed obsolete legislation associated with the venture capital investment strategy;
- Eliminated 113,440 regulatory requirements government-wide, many of which were impediments to doing business;
- Led the development of plans to promote economic development and diversification such as the Heartlands Economic Strategy;
- Removed barriers to key economic projects by implementing a fast-track process that provides suitable projects with priority treatment;
- Developed strategies for tourism development and established an All-Seasons Resorts Task Force; and
- We participated in a wide range of trade and investment missions around the world, including the United States, India, South Korea, Taiwan and China.
During 2003/04, we exceeded our deregulation target for the year with the net reduction of 113,440 regulatory requirements. This achievement reinforces the need to establish smart regulations to encourage prosperity and to foster enterprise across the province.
We reached a contribution agreement with Tourism Vancouver on an expanded Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. Tourism Vancouver will contribute $90 million towards the $495 million expansion. We estimate the project will generate billions of economic activity, and will open on time and on budget in 2008.
In November, the Ministry launched Leading Edge British Columbia to help build the domestic technology sector, to generate awareness and market British Columbia as a destination for technology investment.
To help the province avoid a recurrence of last year's fire season, the Ministry played an instrumental role in the completion of the Firestorm review, which set the stage for government to implement recommendations that will help communities across the province and emergency personnel to prepare and manage better in the event of another busy fire season.
The Ministry continued to deliver the federal-provincial Infrastructure Works Program. This year, $53 million went towards 57 "green" infrastructure projects to improve drinking water quality in communities throughout British Columbia.
We are encouraged by the progress of the Ministry this year, and plan to keep taking important strides forward in the years ahead.
We are pleased to present the details of our activities and accomplishments in this Annual Service Plan report for the fiscal year 2003/04.
Honourable John Les
Minister of Small Business and Economic Development
June 12, 2004