Making it in Powell River


By Melany Hallam

It seems that everywhere I go these days, I’m meeting people who have either just moved to Powell River or want to move here soon. This summer, I met two such couples on the same day while I was visiting a kayaking campsite in Desolation Sound!

People want to come here because real estate is much cheaper than in places such as the Lower Mainland, and our outdoor lifestyle really can’t be beat. But there’s one problem that many potential new (and current) Powell Riverites encounter: full-time, well-paid jobs are difficult to come by.

What’s a person to do?

There are many options for seasonal and part-time employment in Powell River, but it can be a bit crazy juggling schedules for more than one part-time job. It can also be difficult to find enough work to create a stable income for yourself.

That’s where entrepreneurship comes in – creating your own business. In order to do that here, it’s important to get to know our community’s existing services and trends for the future. If you want to be successful, you’ll need think outside the box.

Let’s do a bit of brainstorming.

One trend I’ve noticed is that there is a large retiree community here. What do seniors need in order to continue living independently in Powell River? How about home and yard maintenance, shopping and meal preparation, transportation services … the list goes on. Ask yourself these kinds of questions:

  • Are you interested in this type of work?
  • Is there someone you can ask for advice or for an informational interview?
  • What type of equipment you would need?
  • Can you get started inexpensively in order to test the market?
  • How would you promote this type of service?

For people new to Powell River, do you find yourself looking for products or services here but are not able to find them? Could one of these things be a possible side business for you?

Another question to ask yourself is this: can you use your current skills and work experience to do project-based contract work? You would essentially become a freelancer, and your clients wouldn’t necessarily have to be local. For example, I used to do a lot of work writing promotional materials and using desktop publishing and design software while working as a full-time employee here in Powell River. Using these skills, I started doing contract work on the side for clients in the Lower Mainland. I could (and still do) much of my work remotely via internet and phone, and I now work full-time as a freelancer.

In fact, there is a growing trend in North America towards contracting out short-term projects or piece work rather than hiring employees – what’s called the gig economy. A Feb. 2017 study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 43 percent of American workers would be self-employed independent contractors!

The reality is that the days of long-term full-time jobs experienced by our parents and grandparents are long past. A 2016 Jobvite survey found that while only 18 percent of the total workforce changes jobs every one-to three-years, 42 percent of younger workers do. Almost 20 percent of Jobvite survey participants have held a gig-type job – through piece work companies like Airbnb or Uber – and 56 percent report that this has been their main source of income.

Now may be the time for you to make it in Powell River by creating your own business and getting in on the gig economy trend. October 15 to 19 is Small Business Week, so there’ll be lots of local information out there this month. If you are interested in working for yourself, the most important advice I can give you is to do your research. Here are some places to start:

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