K’ómoks First Nation have always maintained a close relationship with the marine resources of their territory. That relationship continues today as they create economic development opportunities for their future, while using resources for traditional purposes, through their Nation-owned seafood business, Salish Sea Foods.
In 2012, K’ómoks First Nation decided to expand their existing shellfish aquaculture business into a new seafood processing plant. The Nation identified, purchased, and upgraded an existing facility, creating Salish Sea Foods, wholly owned and operated by K’ómoks First Nation.
“Our economic development corporation envisioned expanding our involvement so that we were taking out the middle man. They wanted us to do our own seafood processing and deliver the finished product to the market ourselves,” says explains Robert Everson, Chief Councillor of the K’ómoks Nation.
The Nation wanted to ramp up operations to increase revenue and employ more people. This process included expanding the facility to process additional species. The investments paid off, and the changes translated into increased profits and employment.
Salish Sea Foods primarily employs Comox Valley residents, creating a dozen new jobs that would have otherwise left the community. The business supports families through their economic venture, and in turn these incomes support the local economy.
At the heart of Salish Sea Food’s success is their quality products. “With the expansion, we were able to develop more product lines,” says Melinda Knox, the Chief Executive Officer of the K’ómoks Economic Development Corporation. “These market-ready products elevated the reputation of the business.”
To take the success of these products even further, management at K’ómoks have worked to develop key partnerships with large distributors, which has been key to Salish Sea Foods’ successful operations.