Surrey is facing a challenge in keeping its young entrepreneurs, one of the things the new Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) president will be focusing on over the next year.
Mary Jane Stenberg was recently named as president of the SBOT and says encouraging new businesses to remain in Surrey will be among her top priorities.
Stenberg is the executive director, external relations and special advisor to the president on strategic initiatives for Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and sees promising grads head out into the business world frequently.
She says there are lots of great innovators coming out of the universities right now in the fields of engineering, science technology and nanotechnology.
“So how are we going to encourage them to start their businesses in Surrey?” she asked in an interview with The Leader Tuesday.
“That’s some of the things we need to take a look at this year. We’re going to do some focus groups and think tanks to really engage the young entrepreneurs.”
It means identifying those people before they make decisions on where to locate, Stenberg said.
“That means working with Simon Fraser (University) and Kwantlen and some of the young businesses that are starting up.”
On other fronts, she says, 2011 will be a fluid year.
“It’s going to be a huge year of possibility, of change,” Stenberg said, noting the vote on the Harmonized Sales Tax is coming up, and one, if not two, elections.
“Regardless of what’s happening, it’s going to be important to get the message out about the business community’s needs,” Stenberg said.
In he role with Kwantlen, she is in frequent contact with Surrey council, along with MLAs and MPs, which positions her well to keep the needs of business on the political front burner.
She also wants to work closely with the city on international trade.
Both Surrey and the SBOT went to India this year on trade missions that were quite different in focus.
“What we want to do is set up an international business centre, for businesses that want to do trade and international partnerships,” Stenberg said.
Asked what message she would like to get out over the next year, Stenberg said it would be that this area represents the future.
“Surrey and the South Fraser are the future of the province of British Columbia,” she said. “We need to get that message out clearly and be recognized for the growing power and the growing force to be reckoned with that we are, and that we need to get our fair share of what the rest of the province is already getting.”
Others named to the 2011 SBOT board include:
• Shelley Besse, senior vice-president, operations, sales and member experience – First West Credit Union
• Jack Boyce, director, commercial credit – Coast Capital Savings
• Jane Hawkins, director, administration – Simon Fraser University, Surrey
• John Kearns, general manager – Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel
• Jean-Paul Laube, business development manager, Abbotsford International Airport
• Mauro Manzi, district vice-president, TD Canada Trust
• Jason Maynes, lawyer, Hamilton Duncan Armstrong & Stewart Lawyers
• Bijoy Samuel, general manager, South Asian Broadcasting Corp. (Red 93.1FM) – re-elected
• Hitesh Tailor, principal, Stantec Consulting Ltd.
• Shayne Williams, executive director, South Fraser Community Services Society