Pentictonites know this is a great place to live, work, and play. Many businesses began after an entrepreneur visited the city and decided a move to the Okanagan should be planned, and many businesses and their owners have made Penticton their home base, as seen in the increase in business licenses – up by 525 in 2017 over 2016.

Growth also includes an emerging community of remote workers. What’s a remote worker? Someone who chooses to live here, but work elsewhere. Think of this as a new term for “telecommuters”. Many of these businesses are in high tech or digital industries. A web designer, coder, or freelance writer has all of the tools they need to do their work in a home office or collaborative workspace, and connect with their team anywhere in the world online. And that’s just an example.

These “digital nomads” who can work from anywhere, so why not Penticton? Predictions are that by 2025, 30 percent of workers in North America will be virtual. Penticton offers the technology they need, from high speed networks to support services and co-working, and research also shows that in Canada, these workers are interested in smaller communities with a lower cost of living, and access to all-year outdoor recreation. Penticton offers beaches, trails, rock-climbing skiing, numerous world-class sports events.

Some say the Okanagan is “Napa North”, with a tip to the wine industry, but it’s also called “Silicon Valley North” with a nod to tech. And that sector is growing across the valley.

Individuals may move here to work from a home office in the morning, then ride the KVR in the afternoon. A couple may move here when one gets a new job, and the other takes hold of the entrepreneurial spirit here to create a new business, or commute online to work elsewhere in Canada or on the other side of the world.

These are remote workers who have chosen the Okanagan lifestyle so they can live “here”, but work “there”. A great decision for them, and for our business community.

This article first appeared in the Business Examiner, and is provided courtesy of the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.

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