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Developing Nanaimo’s Economy

Nanaimo’s economy arrived at a ‘sweet spot’ over the last 18 months allowing the business community to boast its lowest unemployment rate in decades and a healthy, growing GDP. Our population is noted to have passed the 100,000 mark evidenced by the release of 2016 census data. We’re seeing signs of that growth in burgeoning building and development statistics.

2019 will go on record as having the highest value of building permits issued in the city’s history. The work to keep pace with demand on real estate partially fuels the growing economy, as much as the people moving here create new business. Major projects by the Port of Nanaimo, Vancouver Island University and the growth of the health care community are some of the major moves.

It’s the perfect time for Nanaimo to take on new endeavours in managing this growth and targeting specific sectors and industries to harness future prosperity. Economic development generates wealth and provides opportunities across the socio-economic spectrum enhancing the quality of life for the whole population.

Targeting economic development efforts at the kind of businesses we want to see grow in Nanaimo is vital to managing a healthy future for ourselves, our kids and grandkids. Aiming our sights on clean, green businesses that employ numbers of people in family-sustaining careers is an obvious goal, and preparing our community to welcome, support, and retain these kinds of businesses is essential to economic development.

Nanaimo is embarking on new economic development initiatives. After a rocky experience with its municipal corporation – the NEDC—City Council is identifying new ways to manage the future. Actions are currently underway that will see a much more active role by Council, civil servants, community economic development stakeholders like the Chamber to take advantage of this ‘sweet spot’.

Now is the time to direct actions and investments towards attracting business outside of our community to consider Nanaimo for entrepreneurial startups, relocation of established businesses and expansion of those already in place. Nanaimo’s new economic development activities are destined to do just that.

Making Connections – Our Ultimate Goal

Nanaimo’s second annual Commercial Street Night Market — part street party, part artisan market, part food fest — kicked off in late June and is likely to boast big crowds until the end of August.

2019 Jonathan Ha Photography

Considered a huge success again, we’re incredibly happy that it brings together so many community members in an outstanding celebration of pride-of-place.

 

In May, the Nanaimo Chamber was the proud recipient of the BC Chamber Executives’ Award for Community & Member Engagement among ‘large’ Chambers in the province. This Award recognized the efforts of our staff and our many volunteers – from board members to Ambassadors to our event volunteers.

Considered for the 2019 Award were the Chamber’s efforts in non-partisan, civic leadership and government advocacy activities. The Chamber was lead organizer of many All-Candidate election events in Nanaimo for the past few years. In the lead-up to the 2018 municipal election we produced a series of Civic Leadership Workshops and presented widely-attended All-Candidate “meet and greets” and candidate debates.

Another consideration was the Chamber’s role in representing the voice of business addressing increasing homelessness problems, plus consequences to our community overall and the business community in particular. The Chamber has a seat on the City’s Homeless Coalition and Emergency Shelter Community Advisory Committees and looks forward to continuing to work on short and long-term solutions. While we are a compassionate community, safety and security for businesses and residents are a primary priority and core value of the Chamber.

The 2018 Commercial Street Night Market was also highlighted by judges – an event that went a long way to seeing Nanaimo’s downtown take some steps toward renewal. This event was so successful that we’ll all be enjoying a bigger, better, more fantastic version this summer.

Our gratitude to all who played a part in these or any of our other Chamber successes – and there are many! It’s been a great honour for the Chamber to work in the community over the years to earn this provincial recognition.