A software development company that moved its Ukrainian R&D office to Saint John in 2015 says its workforce is growing and many of its highly skilled employees plan to stay.
"So far, so good. We like it here," said Evgeniy Rzhechitskaya, who works with his wife Ekaterina in the uptown offices of RevJet.
The Rzhechitskayas moved to New Brunswick from Kiev, along with a dozen other workers educated in coding and technology at Ukrainian schools.
Now the company says it has 24 people on staff and a payroll of $2 million.
"They're young. They make good money," said John Swan, who helped to broker the deal to bring RevJet to New Brunswick.
"Employees are renting.They're buying houses and cars and living a good outdoor life," he said.
They're also having children.
The Rzhechitskayas welcomed their first son at the Saint John Regional Hospital within months of their arrival.
Swan says payroll rebates played a pivotal role in luring RevJet to New Brunswick.
He says they're a simple and easy contract that tends to open doors to busy executives in Silicon Valley.
On a payroll of approximately $1.6 million last year, RevJet's annual rebate amounted to $135,000 from Opportunities New Brunswick.
"The province and ONB have no risk, as they only pay on actual salaries paid and then they pay in arrears, not in advance," wrote Swan in an email to the CBC.
"Our total tax, CPP, and [employment insurance] deductions were roughly $790,000 for our fiscal year."
"We spend approximately $7,500 per year in communications, $110,000 in office space and we support local restaurants for employee lunches, dinners and outside activities."
Quality of life
Rzhechitskaya says the quality of life is attractive in New Brunswick and he has adjusted to the slower pace and the smaller population.
"Most of us moved from Kiev and Odessa. These are huge cities in Ukraine," he said.
"I really love winter sports so I do a lot of snowboarding and skiing."
He also bought a motorcycle.
Rzhechitskaya says RevJet plans to stay in Saint John and is looking to open a customer support centre within the next six months.
He says it would employ New Brunswickers.
Swan says RevJet's Saint John team is responsible for developing software that helps customers fine-tune their advertising almost in real time.
Their programs can test different versions of an ad and instantly measure audience feedback.
The version of the ad that generates the most online interest and "click-throughs" is the one that gets promoted, says Swan.
He says Microsoft is a customer.
Timing of the deal
The deal to move RevJet's Ukrainian office was brokered at a time when that country had come into conflict with Russia.
In the early spring of 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and Moscow began sending troops and military equipment across the border into Ukrainian territory.
Canada is an ally of Ukraine and provides training and support to help modernize its military forces.
"It's getting better," said Rzhechitskaya.
"We had support from a lot of countries, Canada especially."
The Rzhechitskayas say they have been back to Ukraine with their son and spent about two months there, visiting family.
But they say they have no plans to move back.
They now have permanent resident status and hope to get Canadian citizenship.