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B.C., Washington state leaders push Cascadia agenda, stoke NHL rivalry

B.C. premier, Washington state governor spoke at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee accepts a Vancouver Canucks jersey from B.C. Premier John Horgan. The reverse of the jersey featured Inslee's name and the number 20, referring to the anticipated year an NHL team will arrive in Seattle: 2020. (via Tyler Orton)

An international border isn’t keeping leaders along the West Coast from pursuing tighter economic ties.

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee were in Vancouver Wednesday (October 10) at the third annual Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference, where the pair signed a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU) seeking stronger ties.

“This is a great opportunity again just to be here to talk about the things that bind us together between Washington and British Columbia,” Horgan told reporters after the signing of the MOU.

Inslee and former B.C. premier Christy Clark also signed an MOU for Cascadia in October 2016, affirming a shared interest in creating tighter links between the regions’ economies, including the creation of a tech corridor between Vancouver and Seattle.

The latest MOU includes areas of collaboration such as protecting endangered southern resident killer whales, and examining the possibility of creating a high-speed rail corridor authority that would overlap both jurisdictions and lead any potential subsequent phases of the project.

“This is a sunny day in British Columbia, both meteorologically but politically because we are two peoples united in four things that we’ve already had some progress on today,” Inslee told reporters in a joint press conference with Horgan.

In addition to the orca whale population and high-speed rail corridor, Inslee said the two leaders also discussed efforts to combat climate change.

Inslee also acknowledged that Horgan accepted an invitation to address the Washington state legislature during its next session.

The pair engaged in some friendly ribbing as well, exchanging NHL merchandise in anticipation of plans for a professional hockey team to land in Seattle in 2020.

Meanwhile, WeWork Companies Inc. used the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference to launch a WeWork Cascadia Passport.

The co-working space provider’s new product offers clients 24-7 access to any of WeWork’s locations in Vancouver, Seattle or Portland.

The University of B.C., the University of Washington and non-profit Mitacs also announced a new pilot incubator program.

Mitacs, which connects Canadian academic researchers with the private sector, will provide up to $50,000 for 10 incubator internships.

The internships are geared towards short-term entrepreneurship residencies between UBC’s entrepreneurship@UBC program and the University of Washington’s Global Innovation Exchange.

— Tyler Orton, Business in Vancouver