Nelson and Rossland are among the local communities that will be participating in a new federal pilot project.

As Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen explained, the goal is to attract skilled workers to rural areas.

“The Government of Canada working directly with communities across the country to identify the workers that they need and their families, to not only be attracted to those communities, but to settle there and to be retained there,” said Minister Hussen.

Communities and economic development organizations applied to be participants in the permanent residency program.

Many newcomers to the country end up in larger cities, but skilled workers are needed in rural areas where shortages can become problematic.

One way the program works is an employer or employers can identify a skill set that is needed in the area. The community will have to endorse that need and then the employers can recruit to fill those positions.

It’s a “community driven” approach that will be tested over the next five years. Eleven applicants were selected from the dozens that applied after meeting specific criteria that included being able to provide supports for the new families, for example English classes.

Minister Hussen wanted to highlight that it’s not jut about attracting labour, but helping newcomers settle into their homes.

“These communities that have applied have said that we can do this. And the West Kootenay region, the winning bid was not one municipality it was a number of municipalities that have been successful. So, they will collaborate together to make sure that these services are available,” he explained.

The federal government said its role will be to help communities identify candidates for permanent residency this fall who are then expected to arrive next year.

The 10 other communities chosen for the pilot project are Thunder Bay, Sault-Ste-Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, and North Bay, which are all located in Ontario. Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee and Brandon, both in Manitob. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Claresholm, Alberta; and Vernon, BC.