Advocating & Lobbying with Government for the Community…
Nanaimo’s Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role advocating and lobbying with each level of government to gain the greatest benefits possible, to agree on policy proposals most favourable to our communities, and to provide a forum for developing and organizing those ideas. It is one of the most important roles your Chamber plays – fighting for the success of our business community through government advocacy.
The Chamber also collaborates with community organizations such as NEDC, VIU, NPA, YYC, the NHA, Tourism Nanaimo and Community Futures to accomplish its many goals. The Chamber is pleased to have partnered with Futurrpreneur Canada, British Columbia Restaurant & Food Services Association, and Canadian Manufactures & Exporters Association.
The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has served the business community of Nanaimo and area for the past 125 years. We feel very confident that we have gone beyond a local Chamber’s mandate by becoming involved in projects that give value to our community. These include our Succession Planning project and our Successful Cities project see details below).
The Chamber’s mission statement, “Enhance the quality of life by providing opportunities for businesses to succeed,” reflects our commitment to our businesses and ultimately our community because we cannot have a strong, vibrant community without a strong, vibrant business community.
Commissioned a Succession Planning report that shows that 66% of small to medium businesses plan to retire within the next decade, while only 10% of that group have a succession plan in place. The Chamber is now seeking funding to further this program to assist businesses with their succession planning. The Succession Planning report has made recommendations with respect to the provincial and federal programs that can be tweaked to accommodate succession planning in businesses. The Chamber has also met with Provincial Ministers and Federal Ministers to take this project forward.
Created a program called Successful Cities that is playing a significant role in moving Nanaimo’s economic agenda. Instead of looking for the negative attributes of Nanaimo, the initiative focussed on the characteristics of successful cities, and how Nanaimo meets those characteristics. This program, which the City adopted as part of their Strategic Plan, has been so successful that we are restructuring it to take it to a new level by including the City and VIU and a new committee that will take it to the next level. We are receiving requests from other communities asking us how we have managed to get such great collaboration of community partners and asking if they can emulate our program.
City of Nanaimo
Spoken on behalf of our members to the city on their budget, their strategic plan/process, fought for the builders when the City was considering levying more charges, worked to resolve many of the unintended consequences of a City zoning bylaw with the City and our members.
Business Retention & Expansion
Worked on the Business Retention and Expansion project with NEDC to identify the economic drivers in Nanaimo.
On behalf of our members, lobbied and participated in ongoing discussions with BC Ferries with regard to changes to rates and routes.
The Chamber submitted two policies to the BC Chamber on Succession Planning and Asset Management as we recognize the implications to City’s budgets if they do not implement an asset management policy. This issue will affect every community and business in BC, as the financial implications are huge.
City of Nanaimo – Zoning By-law
The City of Nanaimo recently revised its zoning by-laws which had some unintended consequences for all businesses in Nanaimo, both members and non-members of the Chamber. The Chamber recognized this and contacted the City to work to assist our business community to rectify these errors. The Chamber took it upon ourselves to facilitate meetings between the City of Nanaimo and businesses who were affected by this zoning by-law change. We contacted all businesses through our website, media, social media and word of mouth to advise that there had been changes to the by-law and set up a series of meetings at the Chamber with the City staff and the business community. Over a period of four months, over 75 businesses met with the City and each one of their issues were addressed and rectified. From those meetings, the City revised the zoning by-law once again before final reading to mitigate the unintended consequences. As a result of our work, the changes were adopted by council.
City of Nanaimo – Commercial Tax Rates
The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce has been working with the City to have the commercial tax rates lowered. The City has spent the past five years lowering the industrial tax rates, and after lobbying by the Chamber and in concert with the City, City staff recommended to council that as part of their property tax policy that they review the commercial tax rates and receive input from the community so that any changes can be implemented in 2014. The Chamber will continue to work with the City staff to ensure that these change to commercial tax rates occur.
Inter-Community Business Licenses
The Chamber went before City Council to assist local business people who live in Nanaimo but work in other communities. This presentation met with success and in January 2014, an Inter-Community Business Licence (ICBL) program was launched. Mobile businesses will have the option of purchasing an additional business licence from their primary location that will permit them to operate in up to twelve Central Vancouver Island communities from Duncan through to Campbell River..
Budget Presentation to Council
The Chamber went before Council on behalf of our members to be sure that the business interests were represented. The Chamber has also worked with the City to bring the commercial taxes down and the City staff as of March 11th presented to council a plan to lower commercial taxes. The Chamber also presented to City Council at the Town Hall meeting on Monday, March 25th, 2013 and the following letter was sent to Mayor and Council to reiterate our support of a review and lowering of commercial tax rates. Click here to read.
Vancouver Island/Gulf Island Accord
Founding organizer of an accord to coordinate a response to island specific issues such as BC Ferries, Fortis BC common natural gas rates.
Pacific Marine Conservation Area
Held a meeting with business owners and Parks Canada to discuss those businesses that may be affected by the Pacific Marine Conservation Area to discuss the ramifications of this new legislature.
Hosted a workshop for our members with the Shared Prosperity Commission to discuss the importance of economic growth for our communities.
Worked with VIU to develop a Speakers Series for students in the MBA program using local business members to speak to the students about career opportunities in Nanaimo.
For the 7th year hosted a sold out Business Expo giving local businesses a chance to meet the public and other businesses to discuss their services.
City Council Reception
Hosted a reception for the Mayor and Council to discuss issues that impact our business community.
Developed a communication statement and a purchasing statement to look at best value.
Premier Christy Clark
Hosted a coffee and conversation event for women to meet the Premier.
Micro Business Training
Offered a Micro Business Training Program for members to access funding for training.
Held a community forum for invited business leaders to receive community input on the variety of issues facing our community.
BC Chamber AGM
Hosted the BC Chamber AGM in 2013. This brought over 250 business leaders from around the province of BC to Nanaimo over a 4-day period in May 2013.
Produce a Chamber magazine that focuses on business in Nanaimo.
The Chamber has held numerous workshops over the past year to assist businesses with the transition from HST to PST, Federal Government Pooled Pension Plan, Merchant workshop, engagement marketing, doing business with the Government of Canada, The Power of Email Marketing, Leveraging Social Media, and Canada Revenue Agency Round Table.
Networking, Networking, Networking
Provided countless opportunities through our Business Achievement Awards (formerly Sterling Awards), Business Before Business, Business After Business, Chamber luncheons, new member breakfasts and of course all our special events such as the golf tournament and cash mobs.
Working with Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation on a business retention and expansion project. This program will see 50-60 businesses interviewed to find out their best practices, why they have been successful, and what we can do to assist them with their retention or expansion.
The Chamber is represented in unprecedented numbers on local committees, boards, review panels, and advisory committees. These include:
- Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation
- Plan Nanaimo Advisory Committee
- Zoning By-law Task Force
- Tourism Services Task Force
- Advisory Committee on the Environment
- Multi Agency Task Force
In addition, the Chamber has participated in a number of advocacy initiatives including:
- Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance
- Municipal Budget and Financial Plan
- Restructuring of the Downtown Business Advisory Group
- Signage Bylaw Review and LED Signage
- Task Force on Diversity
- Sustainability and Climate Change