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Today, Metro Vancouver announced the appointment of David Flaks as president of the Regional Economic Prosperity Service (REPS), a new service that Metro Vancouver will provide to advance more broadly shared economic prosperity, livability, and sustainability for the region’s 2.7 million residents.Playing to Metro Vancouver’s unmatched physical, institutional, and economic assets, its world-leading creative and entrepreneurial capabilities, its globally-recognized brand and connections, its industrial concentrations, and its productive advantages in sectors as exciting as “TechTainment” and “AgBio,” REPS will provide thought leadership and serve as a regional convener, connector, and collaborator to attract investments that yield triple bottom line advantages for the region: economic, social, and environmental benefits. These investments will improve the long-term competitiveness and resilience of the region and link more disconnected residents and communities to those long-term competitive benefits. The result will be an economy that is more robust, more inclusive, and more equitable.Prior to joining Metro Vancouver to lead the Regional Economic Prosperity Service, Flaks worked as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), Southern California’s premiere economic development leadership organization, which served a county of more than 10.4 million residents with $800 billion in gross county product. He brings to REPS a distinguished 13-year track record of success, playing a pivotal role in building the LAEDC into what is widely considered to be the “gold standard” for economic development leadership organizations in the world.“Top-line economic growth, of course, matters, but it doesn’t mean that much if you’re leaving large swathes of our region’s residents out,” said David Flaks, President, REPS. “Metro Vancouver has afforded me this incredible opportunity both to lead a team of highly talented professionals and to work together in concert and collaboration with the region’s myriad of other public sector, private, education, non-profit, and labor leaders and organizations to ideate, launch, execute, and scale a regional economic development program befitting Metro Vancouver’s fast transitioning, innovation-intensive economy: an economy which has offered a great many the possibility of great economic success but, at the same time, has left too many more under the threat of economic redundancy and being further left behind.”The president is responsible for developing, advocating for and implementing the REPS business plan on a range of matters including defining a strategic investment strategy, launching a brand and marketing strategy, maintaining effective relationships with federal, provincial and regional economic development agencies, and building out this service.“David Flaks has a solid understanding of the policy and infrastructure levers that support economic growth and brings an ability to manage organizational changes, anticipate future events and identify opportunities for the Metro Vancouver region,” says Board Chair Sav Dhaliwal. “While he has demonstrated success in attracting strategic investment with significant economic benefits, he also has a deep commitment to equity and environmental benefits that will improve the long-term competitiveness and resilience of the region.” “The Metro Vancouver region is recognized by global rankings to be a very attractive place for people to live and for companies to locate employees, but this potential has not fully materialized. A major gap has been a focused approach on attracting strategic investment,” says Commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny. “The creation of the Regional Economic Prosperity Service will address that gap while ensuring that no one is left behind through a focus on a shared prosperity.”Metropolitan areas are the engines of economic growth and Metro Vancouver is the industrial, commercial, and financial heart of British Columbia, accounting for just over 60% of BC’s GDP in 2019 and over 50% of BC’s population.“As a regional government we can lay the foundation for an economic recovery that will sustain growth and create shared prosperity for the region long into the future,” says Vice Chair Linda Buchanan. “It is crucial we position Metro Vancouver to weather this storm while expanding our economy by generating new opportunities and strategic investments.”Prior to COVID-19, the Metro Vancouver economy was in an enviable situation — the region’s GDP grew by an annual average of 3.3% during the five years leading up to 2019, driven by the strength of key domestic sectors such as the real estate, professional, scientific and technical services, construction, transportation and warehousing industries.Support for the Regional Economic Prosperity Service“A coordinated and regional approach, similar to other large metropolitan areas in Canada, will help drive new investment in the face of increased competition. Our region has the talent and drive to be the best place to live and work, and increasing investment will help to create opportunities that benefits both residents and businesses.” - Bridgitte Anderson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade“Compared to most other Canadian urban centers, the Metro Vancouver region has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with both economic output and employment posting record declines in 2020. Looking to a post-pandemic recovery, economic activity around the world will continue to be driven by major city-regions. This is why Metro Vancouver needs to foster collaboration and ensure intelligent stewardship of the strategic investments that will help to underpin the region’s future prosperity.” - Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, Business Council of BC"YVR's purpose is to be in service of the community and economy that supports it. Our work together with the Regional Economic Prosperity Service will serve all of the regions’ residents. With Flaks' expertise in economic development, we look forward to working closely together with him and the REPS Management Board to attract investment to the region, foster collaboration and conduct meaningful research." - Tamara Vrooman, President and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority“Metro Vancouver’s Regional Economic Prosperity Service is an initiative we have been supportive of since its beginning, so we are pleased that a leader with such significant experience as David Flaks has been appointed to steer this important collaboration. We applaud Metro Vancouver’s leadership towards a regional economic growth strategy, which is critically important to address a number of challenges, such as the protection of industrial land from rezoning. We look forward to continuing to support and build on the successful teamwork needed to ensure strong regional planning for Metro Vancouver.” - Robin Silvester, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority“One of the single greatest impediments to attracting more direct domestic and foreign capital investment in the region is the current lack of affordability which negatively impacts the size of our potential skilled workforce. This initiative is intended to raise everyone’s standard of living. The cost of living in the region needs to be in line with other jurisdictions in the country.” - Paul Faoro, President, CUPE BCAbout the Regional Economic Prosperity ServiceThe Regional Economic Prosperity Service is structured around three core functions: fostering collaboration, conducting regional data collection and research, and attracting investment to the region. The Regional Economic Prosperity Service will actively promote the value proposition of locating new investment in the Metro Vancouver region under a strong regional brand and will provide a single point of contact for foreign and domestic investors. This work will complement and strengthen the existing economic development efforts of member jurisdictions and stakeholders in the region, while leveraging the regional district’s considerable resources and positive reputation.A management board composed of elected officials and community leaders will provide guidance and strategic advice to the service. The Regional Economic Prosperity Advisory Committee, composed of senior staff from member jurisdictions with responsibilities for economic development and long-term planning, contribute a local perspective on economic development, provide key data, identify critical gaps in data and research, and will work with staff to develop efficient and effective processes for supporting potential investors.More InformationBio – David Flaks (PDF)Regional Economic Prosperity Service