In addition to the region’s key drivers of Kelowna International Airport, University of British Columbia, Okanagan College, Kelowna General Hospital and the Okanagan Centre for Innovation, the Central Okanagan’s greatest economic strength is its diversity.
The top five employment sectors in the region are Health Care, Technology, Professional Services, Trade and Construction.
Driven by Kelowna General Hospital and UBC’s Southern Medical Clinical Academic Campus, Health Care is a major and in demand sector in the Central Okanagan economy. In 2017, Health Care accounted for 26% of all job vacancies in the Central Okanagan.
From KF Aerospace, the region’s largest private employer, to Formashape and its sister company Whitewater West, the world’s largest manufacturer of fibreglass water slides, the manufacturing sector in the Central Okanagan is well represented and diverse. The region is a growing aerospace cluster with several major companies serving aviation and defense markets globally, a growing number of smaller companies and R&D capacities including the Composite Research Network and Survive and Thrive Applied Research centre.
Kelowna and the Central Okanagan is the third largest and fastest growing technology hub in British Columbia.
The sector is anchored by industry leaders like Disney Interactive and QHR Technologies and bolstered by an ever growing number of innovative startups springing from Accelerate Okanagan, the region’s accelerator for technology enabled businesses.
In 2017, the economic impact of the tech sector in the Okanagan was $1.7 Billion, an increase of 24% since the last economic impact study in 2013.
Agriculture is an integral part of the economy and history of the region. From small scale family farms supplying the vibrant farmer’s markets to industry leading co-ops like BC Tree Fruits and corporations like Sun-Rype Products, the agricultural industry is diverse and technologically advanced. The premium quality and extended growing season mean Okanagan products, particularly cherries, are in demand in markets worldwide. Growers and consumers worldwide benefit from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Summerland R&D Centre.
The Okanagan continues to be a top destination as visitors from across Canada and around the world flock to the region’s lakes, valleys, vineyards, orchards and mountains year after year. In 2016, the tourism sector generated 8,350 jobs and an overall direct economic impact of $810 million in Kelowna alone, according to Tourism Kelowna.