July/August 2020 – Facing the Music

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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For almost 100 years, the stately three-storey building at the corner of Victoria and Stanley Streets in downtown Nelson, British Columbia, has been home to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 51. Through the years, the branch has supported veterans, families, and so many others in this his- toric West Kootenay city of about 10,000 people. It recently hit hard times, however. Reluctantly, the Legion leadership decided it was time to sell. Redevelopment seemed inevitable. Then, serendipity knocked on the door. Greg Malpass is a Nelson native by birth and an entrepreneur by profession. In 2007, he started Traction on Demand (ToD), one of North America's largest Salesforce consulting and application development firms. A chance meeting at a B.C. tech summit with an economic development official from his home- town, against the backdrop of TELUS's decision to invest $20 million in Nelson to advance its fibre optic network, sparked an innovative idea. Malpass bought the Legion building and worked out a 20-year lease-back plan. Branch members will occupy the main floor and basement, while ToD will move into the top two floors as part of its small towns initiative. This initiative makes way for new, high-paying jobs in Nelson, traditionally a natural resource- reliant region. It combines growing opportunities in the tech sector with total connectivity through TELUS PureFibre and gives young residents and families renewed reason to stay close to home. It is expected the program will grow to 45 people work- ing on the top two floors of the Legion in late 2020. For Malpass, it's also a way to give back to his hometown. "Being from a small town played a large part in who I became and, ultimately, what ToD is today," he says. "I have always tried to find creative ways to harmonize work and play, which is characteris- tic of someone from a small town." Power of connectivity Creativity is a hallmark of ToD and its more than 700-strong workforce, who refer to themselves as "Tractionites." But this initiative only works with strong and reliable connectivity. In another moment of serendipity, it turns out the TELUS office is right across the street. "We just basically lay the wire across the road," jokes Chris Peacock, Traction On Demand's Chief Marketing Officer. In all seriousness, he says ToD would not be able to carry out its small towns initiative without the strength of fibre. Each hair-thin fibre-optic strand vastly boosts internet speeds to homes, businesses, hospitals, universities, and high schools, and will support data demands for gener- ations. Fibre-enabled regions have a technological How a big city tech firm is winning over small town Canada CONNECTIVITY POWER PHOTOS BY TOM WEAGER PHOTOGRAPHY P R O M O T E D C O N T E N T

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