Mayor expects turnaround in Penticton job growth

BCBusiness magazine released a list of the Best Cities for Work in 2016, Penticton coming in near the bottom of the list of 35 communities.

Coming in at No. 29 on a list of the best cities in B.C. to find work in 2016 is a concern, but Penticton’s mayor expects a turnaround.

BCBusiness magazine released a list of the Best Cities for Work in 2016, with Penticton coming in near the bottom of the list of 35 communities. By comparison, Vernon was ranked at 22, Kelowna at 11 and Vancouver at 17. The top-ranked cities were Dawson Creek in second place and Fort St. John in first.

“When they run the numbers next year, I think we will significantly spike,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “If you look around now, there is a lot more construction happening, everything from Skaha Hills to Sendero Canyon.”

Jakubeit also noted that jobs are already being created by the new Okanagan Correctional Centre construction, and 2016 will see the start of the $325-million expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital.

“Next year with the hospital coming on board and the casino — they want to break ground next spring — I think there will be a lot more jobs happening,” said Jakubeit.

BCBusiness created the list by evaluating six economic indicators: unemployment rate, five-year population change, percentage of households with university degrees and average household income — current, five-year and for under-35s.

Creating a more attractive employment picture, according to Jakubeit, is why the city has put a high priority on economic development.

“It is a reality we are trying to work to correct and improve,” said Jakubeit. “We need to improve that, so people that want to move or transition find that there are jobs for them.”

Penticton was recently listed as the second most entrepreneurial community in Canada by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which Jakubeit said speaks to people wanting to come here wanting to start a business.

“Hopefully that translates into the growth, which means employees and more people having a place to work,” said Jakubeit. “I have had a retail store for 25 years and certainly this town is a tougher nut to crack compared to other communities.”