Shifting City

written by 33 Acres Brewing Company

Guest Article—Ryan Holmes Founder & CEO of Hootsuite / @invoker

In recent years, Vancouver has become an example of how a city can transition from a heavily resource based economic model to a more diversified and sustainable one.

We’ve begun to transform former industrial areas like Mount Pleasant into trendy, up-and-coming neighborhoods. We’ve invested in a new mass transit system (with the Canada Line). We’ve boosted an already flourishing tourism industry and incentivized knowledge-based industries. As a result, we’ve been able to bring in more global companies and foster homegrown success stories too. The city’s thriving tech scene is just one case in point.

Hootsuite—the social media company I founded in 2008—now has close to 1000 employees and over 12 million global users, including 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies. Vancouver’s international reputation, livability and growing pool of world-class talent have all made it possible for us to start a global tech company and grow it here. It’s also exactly why some of the world’s most recognizable tech brands like Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have recently come to Vancouver to set up shop, as well.

As a result, British Columbia’s high tech sector now employs more people than the mining, oil and gas and forestry sectors combined. For me, this is an incredibly gratifying and promising shift. After all, the bigger picture is: our future lies with sustainable industries—no one is putting more coals or minerals back in the ground.

The only way to tackle some of the most serious and formidable environmental issues we face today is via this type of ongoing innovation. For instance, major technological advancements in communications are already bringing people together in ways we’ve never seen before. Around the world, concerned citizens are using tools like social networks and crowd-sourcing sites to proactively rally around causes like global warming and wildlife conservation. I’ve seen this powerful shift firsthand from the forefront of the social media wave. Meanwhile, the tech and innovation sectors are also driving forward large-scale sustainable energy solutions like solar and wind power and electric vehicles.

Many of us might reflexively consider nature and technology to sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. But looking forward, there is a significant, possibly life-saving connection between the two. And this auspicious link between tech innovation, nature and our futures will only become more obvious as time passes. It’s a pattern I hope will be recognized and embraced across many more cities and industries.   3ND