Business After Business – June 2015 Nanaimo

Big shout out to Open Connection (Telus) at Nanaimo North Town Centre and Smokin’ George’s BBQ for putting on a great Business After Business. Great crowd, fascinating tech items and delicious food.  We learned that Open Connection has been part of the Nanaimo North Town Centre complex for over 20 years – and that BBQ food is a perfect match for networking.

 

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Thank you to everyone who came to be part of the evening. It is because of you these events are a huge success.

 

See you next month-

Business Before Business on July 22 at Berwick On The Lake. 7:30-8:30 am

Business After Business on July 30 at Sands Funeral Chapel from 5:00-7:00 pm.

 

INTOLERANCE? IN NANAIMO?

Over recent months, Nanaimo’s Chamber of Commerce has been developing plans to aid new Chinese immigrants in achieving more success in their new business ventures in Vancouver Island. Many of these investors have purchased businesses from people who wished to sell the ‘family shop’ they’ve built over decades in a desire to retire and move on.

Some of the challenges for these new investors include a lack of support systems helping them understand the cultural differences between business in their native land and here. Specifically, marketing and promotions, human resources, customer service and good neighbourly relations can present challenges when you are new to a language and culture.

Working with our local Multicultural Society and groups representing the Chinese community, we are establishing tools – like workshops, seminars and mentoring – to help welcome our new investors and contribute to their success. We know there are many ways we can contribute to the benefit of our economy and the community at large.

But… in early June we began to see some hints of intolerance. Some of us received what can only be described as ‘hate mail’ at our homes in an unaddressed letter from a previously unheard of group. Many expressed outraged at this display of ignorance and racism and reported this to authorities and discussed it widely on social media and around the water cooler.

This was just the preface to an ugly weekend that saw bus bench posters featuring Asian realtors marketing their services in their own language to potential buyers (Target marketing in its simplest form.) defaced with messages of hate, ethnic slurs and… swastikas (for some weird, irrational reason).

People offered to organize clean up crews, police opened a file, the city sent crews to remove the graffiti and hands reached out to the individual realtors and the Asian community to assure them that these acts did not reflect the feelings of the average Nanaimoite. The Chamber of Commerce and other community leaders sought ways to assure local Chinese in our community that they were safe and most welcome.

The Chamber will continue its efforts to ensure each and every new arrival feels secure about their decision to place their dreams and hopes in our fine community. We will work to remind each other we are a welcoming and inclusive community. And we underscore that those ignorant thoughts and actions expressed are those of a very few people who need to rethink what they’re saying and doing to their neighbours lest it happen to them sometime. Feel free to letting us know where you stand on this issue: ceo@nanaimochamber.bc.ca

Kim Smythe, CEO

June 2015

Waterfront Development

I recently had the good fortune to tour North Vancouver’s waterfront led by Mayor Darrell Mussatto and Councillor Linda Buchanan. We also got to experience the launch of their Friday Night Food Truck Festival, but that’s a whole different story for next month!

Just over a year ago, North Vancouver published their ‘Central Waterfront Development Plan’ describing a vision to rehabilitate their historic industrial waterfront. Five words: ‘this vision is about people’ kicks off the 65-page report.

Some highlights of the plan’s mission include statements like “culturally and historically rich, it must be a year round gathering place, be void of vehicles yet accessible, make it intimate, must be programmed and must be monetized”. In the end, the report cited these among the ‘ten commandments’ of downtown waterfront development.

Their project is quickly becoming a ‘people place’ of outstanding proportions. As Mayor Mussatto led me running up and down the piers, around construction barricades, and over graveled environmental remediation sites, through a 750 seat “Tap & Barrel” restaurant (to open this summer), I couldn’t stop making comparisons with Nanaimo’s South Downtown Waterfront. In North Van, the pace of progress seemed incredibly rapid in contrast with our experience in Nanaimo. When I questioned how you turn a plan into reality in such a short time frame, his answer was simple.

Choose the best help to help develop and define your community’s vision, get buy-in from elected leaders — because it’s the right thing to do, ensure staff understands clearly what plan they’re following, and move forward with deliberation and commitment. Most importantly, “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

North Vancouver’s modus operandi is simple, the ten points of their mission clearly detail their vision and their committed actions demonstrate they’re moving forward with determination on behalf of the community. Is this a model that we could be following more closely here? Is it possible to consider North Van as a ‘best practice’ to adopt for our South Downtown Waterfront?

Can we try doing it that way, and be careful not to ‘sweat the small stuff’? The evidence of a potentially incredible successful outcome is there, and from what I saw it looked VERY good for business. And that’s good for any community.

Kim Smythe, CEO

June 2015