Souris is becoming a hot spot for potential immigrant investors to visit, but it has yet to translate into significant economic or population growth for the town, says Mayor Steve O’Brien.
“Part of the reason we are having so many now (immigrant investor meetings) is because Charlottetown and Summerside have probably reached capacity.”
In his report Monday to the monthly meeting of council, Mayor O’Brien indicated he participated in four meetings in just over three weeks. In total he’s participated in approximately 60. “We know we weren’t going to get a lot, or many, of them. But even if we got two or three it would be well worth it.”
The mayor acknowledges that in the past part of the motivation to visit a rural community may have had to do with checking bureaucratic boxes. But he senses increased sincerity of late. “The trouble with it is it takes two or three years from the time you would talk to them until you could expect them to be setting up a business.”
Immigration needs to be one component in any municipality’s toolkit for growth, the mayor says. “We need new people. A lot of these people have great ideas.” Initially the majority of potential immigrant investors were from China or Hong Kong. Of late more Vietnamese are expressing interest. “They talk about import-export business and that kind of thing. There’s a lot of interest in our lobster business.”