2015 Gateway Magazine

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We’re proud to point out that one of our core services at the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is “community and government advocacy”. But what are we advocating for, who are we advocating to, and what are the outcomes and benefits for businesses and the community?

Sometimes it can be as simple as solving a licensing or permit problem by working with an individual member on a specific issue. More often than not, it is at a higher strategic level, more proactive and less visible. There is significant community value in what your Chamber does at each level of government, and the voice it expresses for the community.

In the past year we have helped host several senior federal government cabinet ministers visiting our community. Our communications goal is to create awareness around infrastructure needs for our community and impress upon them the essential importance of Nanaimo to the mid and north Vancouver Island communities. Between the Airport, Port Authority and VIU we have identified the need for over $150 million of funding to help grow our economy in the next two decades. If we didn’t bring these Ministers to town, they’d never understand the importance of the mid-Island’s projects or have enough familiarity with our community to being to motivate their future support. Our latest Ministerial visits included Ministers of State Michelle Rempel and John Duncan as keynote speakers at the Nanaimo Chamber luncheon on April 8, 2015.

We’ve also hosted numerous senior provincial cabinet ministers to seek their support for projects and give Nanaimo’s business community a bit of an advantage in Victoria. In the past few weeks we’ve hosted the Minister of Transportation, Minister of Advanced Education and Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation to Chamber events and closed-door meetings with civic and community leaders.

Meanwhile at City Hall, we are promoting conversation around a freeze on commercial tax increases, have started high level work on our ‘Green Tape’ Policy Review Committee with its goal of cutting bureaucratic barriers (and needless expense) for business, and finally talking on the issue of Food Trucks in our community.

Our members support this work through their annual membership dues. Stay tuned and see what else the Chamber is doing with government to make it easier for the business community to prosper and build a better community through better business.

Kim Smythe

April 2015

Business “Over-Achievers” Named

The 15th Annual Business Achievement Awards were held in March to celebrate those who excel daily in our business community. In an effort to make sure Nanaimo’s only comprehensive business award maintains relevancy, we tied this year’s categories and values to the pillars and principles of Successful Cities.

Successful Cities are defined as vibrant, convivial, urban settings. They are based on five pillars — balanced cultural, economic, social vision and the built and natural environments — and engage in actions that value community well-being and aim for a higher quality of life. This is our vision for Nanaimo, so we thought we’d pattern our Awards after these themes.

In the category of Natural Environment, we awarded honours in Tourism to Harbour Air – Canada’s first carbon neutral airline, and recognized M.C. Wright & Associates – a biological consulting and software development firm for the ‘Science’ award.

Under Cultural Vitality, honours in The Arts went to the Wellington Jazz Academy – ongoing international award winners — while the Innovation honours went to Dog n’ Suds for their pioneering business practices.

Our Economic Development ‘Stalwart’ award went home with Woodgrove Centre – based on their successful growth over the years and their impact on the local economy. The ‘Start Up’ award went to Tilray – less than a year old with over 100 employees with considerably greater ‘growth’ on their horizon.

Social Considerations acknowledged Social Enterprise and was handed over to Code Brew – the hospital coffee kiosk which has recently expanded to a second location, while the Institutional award recognized Nanaimo Community Hospice Society for their vital work.

Design, architecture and engineering, as part of the Built Environment, recognized RW (Bob) Wall for their ongoing achievements in changing the look of Nanaimo. Westmark Construction was honoured for their continuing commitment to excellence in the Construction & Development category.

Finally, we were compelled to look toward the future and recognize ‘Youth’ nominees. This year there were two and the judges could not determine which of them to honour, so we made the decision to recognize both Kenton Dick, successful musician from the Wellington Jazz Academy and Gina Mowatt from the Gitxsan First Nation for her inspiring work with aboriginal youth.

Out of nearly 6,000 hard working businesses in Nanaimo, these are the ones who rose to the top in these awards. Surely the outcomes are debatable, but we have to be proud to look over this list of over-achievers.

Kim Smythe, CEO

April 2015