If Jared Shaw has his way, the Parksville Qualicum Beach region will become a digital media hub creating hundreds of high-paying jobs and investment.
Shaw works as a consultant in the digital media industry and he wants to drive home the message that central Vancouver Island has a competitive advantage over other communities when it comes to attracting business.
Originally from Manitoba, Shaw eventually headed west, where he said the lifestyle proved to be hands-down a winner.
The recruiter for games and animation calls Qualicum Beach home and he believes this area has the potential to attract some of the best minds in digital design and media.
"I was thinking about moving to California ... by fluke I discovered Qualicum Beach," he said. "The liveability factor here is huge."
Shaw said he is convinced this region has what it takes to be a technology hub and he is working with the the Town of Qualicum Beach and the Innovation Island Technology Association to look into setting up technology incubators.
Shaw said he is even more confident about his vision for the future of the digital media industry in Parksville Qualicum Beach after a successful symposium and conference was held at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre April 28.
The day-long event showcased speakers from TV and film, video games, animation, digital comics and mobile platforms and Shaw said the turnout was amazing.
"We had 115 people show up," he said. "That's a great number considering we had no advertising budget. To have that many people turn out is saying something."
He said the focus of the symposium was to inspire and connect people and it did.
"It achieved that in spades. I couldn't be happier. Quite often in this business you think you are working in a vacuum and there is no support, but those who attended found support in each other and they now have greater confidence."
Shaw said having the legendary Syd Mead as the keynote speaker at the event was a major score.
Mead's designs have been a steady influence in Hollywood and have been seen in movies such as Aliens, Tron, Blade Runner, Star Trek and more, but his career has been vast, reaching beyond film.
His work crosses various platforms including automotive design, graphic design, set design, product design, poster design, logo design, game design and architecture.
The concept artist, who will be turning 80 this year, treated the audience to a commentary on some of his iconic visuals and explained the inspiration behind them.
Mead said imagination is what drives new things and all of his creations, including his renditions of anti-gravity vehicles and futuristic cityscapes, all started at zero.
Mead's advice to the young designers in the crowd was simple:
"Learn a skill that is marketable as an idea," he said. "You have to be able to come up with unique ideas but with your personality intact. Learn how to do something that somebody is going to pay for."