Vernon is one of 11 communities selected to take part in the federal government’s new Rural and Northern Immigration pilot project that seeks to invite newcomers to make the community their home forever.

Seniors Minister Filomena Tassi was in Vernon over the weekend to kick off the program and discuss the next steps with participating groups.

Part of the idea is that immigrants can help fill labour gaps in the region.

“Rural communities like Vernon are the beating heart of our country. Attracting immigrants to make the Okanagan Valley their new home will help grow the economy and create and support jobs,” Tassi is quoted as saying in a government news release.

The release describes Vernon as “an eclectic community located in the Okanagan Valley (with) a diverse economic base, driven by agriculture, construction, tourism and manufacturing.”

A similar pilot project has been deemed a success in Atlantic Canada.