Three Prince George groups are sharing part of the $1.4 million pot to bring skilled immigrants to town.
The Prince George Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Interior Logging Association and Initiatives Prince George are recipients of money from the Immigrant Employment Council of B.C.'s Employer Innovation Fund.
The new funding source is focused on supporting projects to "effectively attract, hire and retain skilled immigrants in B.C. workplaces."
"These projects will go a long way to helping B.C. employers develop new and innovative ways to address labour skills shortages and facilitate the integration of skilled new immigrants into their workplaces," said Kelly Pollack, Immigrant Employment Council of B.C. executive director.
IPG's project - a collaborative effort between employers, community agencies and educational institutions - is a virtual career fair in the south. The idea is to allow Lower Mainland immigrants to experience Prince George without having to navigate the challenges of getting here first.
"The virtual career fair will be a valuable took Prince George employers can use to attract skilled immigrants from the Lower Mainland to live and work in our thriving city," said IPG CEO Heather Oland. "This will help fulfil a key part of Prince George's economic development strategy by growing the population of the city.'
The Central Interior Logging Association is developing a pilot program for on-the-job experience and mentoring and offering immigrants industry-specific training.
"The CILA is pleased to be able to assist immigrant workers to enter the forest harvesting and trucking sectors," said executive director MaryAnne Arcand. "The critical worker shortage in our industry is a catalyst for change in who and how we recruit and this funding will help break down barriers to entry for immigrants, now and in the future."
Removing those traditional obstacles is the idea behind the Chamber of Commerce's community outreach campaign that received funding. Immigrant families in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island will be targeted with ethno-specific media campaigns involving TV advertising, social media, video production and website development.
"It's a new and intercultural take on 'go west, young man,' but instead we encourage immigrant families to 'go north' where unemployment is low yet affordability and the welcoming community of Prince George await you," said chamber CEO Jennifer Brandle-McCall.
According to the Immigrant Employment Council, a total of 11 organizations received funding, with priority given to projects that impact more than one employer and show potential for sustainability once the thrust of the project has been completed.