Chinese entrepreneurs transforming P.E.I. economy
Part four of the CBC P.E.I. series From China to P.E.I.
A wave of Chinese immigration to P.E.I. over the last eight years is leading to big changes in the Island's economy.
Many of those immigrants have come … to be business people, to be entrepreneurs.- Jason Lee
Thousands of new immigrants have arrived on the Island, starting in about 2006, and a high proportion of them are from China. Most came as immigrant investors through the provincial nominee program, which required them to invest in an Island business.
As they settle here themselves, many are starting up their own businesses.
"We've seen, over the last decade, an incredible growth in the immigrant population. Many of those immigrants have come through the provincial nominee program to be business people, to be entrepreneurs," said Jason Lee.
Lee is the program coordinator for PEI Connectors, which works to connect new Islanders to the existing business community.
"They were getting here on P.E.I. and they were looking for some help," he said.
"These are people coming from a different country with different cultures, different business styles, in many cases there's a significant language barrier."
The organization has had more than 260 clients, all but a couple dozen from China. Here are some of their stories.
Vicki Li is not yet a Canadian citizen, and until few years ago she had never heard of bagels, but she is now the owner-operator of the Great Canadian Bagel in Charlottetown.
John Li's consulting company is building connections between P.E.I. and China, particularly in the food industry.
Gavian Fang came to P.E.I. from China as a student in 2009, and attended the University of Prince Edward Island. She is now running her own business.