Reconciliation Day dedicated to “honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of Indigenous relations takes place” was the first of what the Chamber hopes will open a new era of inclusive economic opportunity. Reconciliation has a distinct connection to the future of Nanaimo’s business community.
Among demographic metrics measuring growth in entrepreneurialism, Canada’s young Indigenous population stands out. In fact, the term “Indige-preneur” has been coined because these startups are so prolific and display such a high rate of success. Our mid-Island community is no stranger to that and, in fact, all of Vancouver Island can boast a significant amount of Indigenous Economic Development. This, in turn, supports work forces from sectors as varied as forestry, resource development, processing, advanced manufacturing, fisheries, transportation, to hospitality and tourism, the arts, health care and on and on.
In Nanaimo, Petroglyph Development Group is the corporate arm of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. The Chamber is flattered by the opportunity to sit at the table of the new Nanaimo Prosperity Corporation with PDG, and on the new Board of Tourism Nanaimo with Snuneymuxw reps helping guide Nanaimo’s economic future in hospitality. Nanaimo’s new Marriot Hotel, and the recently announced Downtown to Downtown foot passenger ferry both realized their start with an equity investment by Snuneymuxw First Nations.
First Nations art expressed through carving, painting, dance, cultural celebrations, or public displays like the Noel Brown Welcome Pole raised at Maffeo Sutton Park last week are part of the local Indigenous economy. Recent stories about Ay Lelum — the Good House of Design showing its unique Coast Salish designs at world-famous New York Fashion week are a point of pride for the whole community!
The Nanaimo Chamber and Snuneymuxw have agreed on a draft MOU focused on supporting, facilitating and advocating for local Indigenous economic development. We’re also committed to work to meet the goals of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, especially Article #92 and by supporting UNDRIP, which the Nanaimo Chamber committed in writing to last year. This year, your Chamber is dedicated to bringing the joint agreement to a signing ceremony. You’ll all be invited to witness.
In light of the snap election call, the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce announced its one-night All Candidates Forum on September 15. The Chamber has been organizing such presentations over the years, and they’ve become a mainstay on the periodic election scene locally.
“These are special times, so we’ve planned a hybrid event – a mix of a limited live audience and live-streaming coming from the Shaw Auditorium at Vancouver Island Conference Centre,” according to Kim Smythe of the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. “We’ll invite questions in advance, and from the audience on-site, just as we usually do. We’re hoping all parties will accept our invitation and present their candidates for consideration in this forum. It’s really timed so that voters can use the event to help them make up their minds in the last week after a month of election promises.”
Information and details on registration for the live event, and access to the virtual event, will be posted on the Chamber’s website, social media channels and in local media.
With opportunities to open up small public gatherings again, Downtown Nanaimo is adding a ‘Corner Concert’ series to entertain lunch crowds and passersby this summer.
Solos and duos will take over downtown corners near patios adding a new ‘live music’ vibe to downtown, celebrating a return to a more normal social setting with the pandemic increasingly fading from everyday life and a new hospitality season upon us. “It’s been a very challenging couple of years for downtown businesses – retailers, restauranteurs, tourism operators have all struggled to survive.” said Kim Smythe, on behalf of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Association.
According to Smythe, a number of initiatives are underway to attract and welcome Nanaimo residents and visitors back downtown after the announcement of restriction relaxations. In addition to advertising in publications with Island-wide and BC Ferries distribution, Downtown Nanaimo is running a local social media photo promotion all summer, with $2,000 in prizing shared among eligible participant winners. www.downtownnanaimo.ca
Corner Concerts will connect people to the gathering-spots that are coming alive downtown again. Diana Krall Plaza, Museum Way, and National Land Building steps are going to be the most popular corners to serve as Corner Concert venues. Entertainment takes place 11:30 am – 1:30 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays throughout the summer with a variety of performers.
Summer is here, and Nanaimo couldn’t be a more vibrant and exciting place to celebrate the season! Although our usual seasonal celebrations – Silly Boat Regatta, Bathtub Days and Night Market — may still be postponed, at least we can now gather in groups safely. Family reunions, block parties and small entertainment events can now commence. In fact, Downtown merchants are planning a weekly lunch-hour series of ‘Corner Concerts’, Fridays through Sundays this summer as part of the celebrations.
Nanaimo has so much to offer in the warmer months, from parks to beaches to on-the-water activities, the adventure is endless or, even, slightly eccentric. Climb among the trees, zip-line through them, or take a bungy jump into the rain forest at Wild Play. Paddle board, canoe or kayak around Saysutshun Island, then stop off at the Dinghy Dock – Canada’s only floating pub. Summit Mount Benson via its trails and paths and see the city from a unique viewpoint. Or take a helicopter there!
Summertime offers more benign opportunities to enjoy your choice of riverbank, lakefront, or ocean beach and picnics at the park accompanied by your favourite local take out or a shady trail walk. If you’d like to go hiking or biking and would like some guidance, check “101 Things To Do” for contacts there – do the same if you’d like a scenic Island food and bevvie tour.
Nightlife in Nanaimo is making its comeback as well, with pubs and clubs opening up for regular service as well as extended patios as part of B.C. ‘s Restart plan. With the ability to stay later at your favourite, local watering hole or restaurant, the night-time environment returns us to those fun, inviting places enjoying each other’s company. Slowly returning to full-capacities and entertainment proves that business is surely bringing us back to the ‘almost normal’ that we’ve missed so much!
Use “101 Things To Do” to direct your visiting friends and family members to their next adventures in Nanaimo and keep local business thriving!
While I have some remarks published in the report you’ve all received, I wanted to depart from that and use my minute or two here to comment on some of the details of the year 2020. Starting March 13 last year, our world went into a spin nobody could have forecasted. At the Chamber, we were busy planning our 50 plus events for the year – from networking activities, monthly luncheons, ceo breakfasts, and the biggies like Business Expo, Business Awards, and of course the Commercial Street Night Market. Instead, we had two breakfasts and one luncheon done by that time. Fortunately, we were given a brief reprieve in the summer and received the PHO’s blessing to hold our golf tournament – much to the delight, no – glee — of our 80 golfers. Staff mentioned it was like watching kids AT the first snowfall of the year!
We shifted gears upon discovering that what people wanted most was information and knowledge which saw us enter into “uber communications” mode. We produced 13 weekly webinars from March to June interviewing the people who mattered the most – government & community leaders, and the folks who would help businesses the most in securing support funding to help them survive what we didn’t know enough about to know what was coming next. We increased our NewsLine enews from a single issue with five stories a week to a daily issue with twenty-five stories a week and our readership went up 5,000%. We pulled off a virtual Business Awards show with the help of Steve Patterson of CBC’s “The Debaters”. Our workload in government advocacy went sky high as we collaborated with the BC Chamber and provincial ministries to ensure business had the best chance to survive and thrive. And we ended the year on a positive note financially.
Thanks to Chamber staff who really moved fluidly amidst all the changes we needed to make, to our contractors who did the same, to volunteers who persevered, to our colleagues and partners in business and government. Especially to civic leaders in governance and the bureaucracy as we worked together on the Health and Housing Task Force, Economic Development Task Force, the reformation of Tourism Nanaimo and development of a new BIA.
Among the changes we went through, perhaps the most significant was the board’s decision to look towards the future and our needs for space which resulted in the sale of our building in early 2021 with the intent to purchase property in the city center with proceeds from the sale and make an equity investment in downtown revitalization. While the sale has been completed, the Chamber will not be moving until we’ve found the best space possible that will allow the Chamber to continue serving its members while also paying respect to the membership and past board members and leaders who created the legacy we enjoy now.
Kim Smythe, President & CEO
COCO Café is a Social Enterprise with a mission to provide employment, training, and socialization opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. Their business model is unique to them. Most similar community programs are just that, “community programs” where people with developmental disabilities are given the opportunity to participate in a workplace setting, not necessarily being paid and often being part of more of a social and recreational program. At the Coco Café all their employees are paid industry-standard wages or higher and offered a full benefits package. All their employees are part of the team and contribute to the success of the business. This is especially important for those employees with developmental disabilities to feel the rewards of contributing to their workplace success and being part of their community.
Recognition of the accomplishments of COCO Café is wonderful for their committed team “who work hard to maintain the focus of effort on a daily basis to provide a supportive work environment.” Equally as important, winning this award raises the profile of the organization, its mission, and the possibilities of running a successful and truly inclusive workplace.
In 2017 the COCO Café introduced new efforts in their commercial retail food department incorporating new products such as healthy family meals, stuffed Yorkshire puddings, and chicken enchiladas to their already popular hand-folded potpies and soups. These meals are sold in their retail food freezer on sight and through local grocery stores. They are excited to be expanding their opportunities by opening a new commercial kitchen space dedicated to meeting the demand of their growing catering and commercial retail operations. This new kitchen will create a space to allow them to meet the demand for their product and provide more supported employment opportunities.
Check out their website at www.cococafe.ca, like them on Facebook at Coco Café & Cedar Opportunities Co-operative, or follow them on Instagram at @cococafecedar
The purpose of The Port Theatre Society is to stimulate and enhance artistic, cultural, and economic activity of central Vancouver Island. At the Port Theatre they host 110,000 people each year to enjoy a variety of cultural performances and events. Through their partnerships and their programming, the Port Theatre has established itself as a community gathering place, a place of tolerance, and creativity. With over 200 volunteers, they have one of the largest volunteer rosters in Nanaimo. Together, their staff and volunteers help to ensure they are the community’s home for artistic and cultural performers, and audiences throughout central Vancouver Island.
The Port Theatre is honoured and thrilled to be the recipient of the 2019 Arts & Entertainment Nanaimo Business Award. “The timing couldn’t be better as we just celebrated our 20th year!”
The positive impact of winning this award is raising awareness that the Port Theatre is a non-profit organization built by the determination and hard work of this dedicated community. Since opening their doors in 1998, innumerable volunteers, staff, their boards of directors, individuals, corporations, non-profits, local, provincial and federal governments and their deepest partner, the City of Nanaimo, have supported the arts and culture at the Port Theatre.
They have grown to host almost 250 events a year, this is truly a place for everyone! Being recognized by the Nanaimo Chamber also acknowledges they’re running a successful business, providing well-paid local jobs and contributing substantially to the growing success of the downtown core. The Port Theatre also provides an extensive diversity of events and programs, allowing citizens to have meaningful arts experiences without leaving their hometown as well as attracting many out of town visitors for some of their unique programs.
Check out their website at www.porttheatre.com, like them on Facebook at The Port Theatre, or follow them on Twitter at @porttheatre!
For Immediate Release: October 28th, 2019
LAST Chance to Enter your Business in this Year’s DT Gingerbread Competition
This 2019 holiday season, will be the 5th annual celebration of B Gallant Homes Gingerbread Competition in Downtown Nanaimo. Registration is now open for Nanaimo businesses to sign up for the competition that gives you a huge opportunity to promote your company’s image give back to the community, in a fun and collaborative way!
Using imagination and creativity, your team will design and build a model which resembles a house, or a building, with gingerbread and royal icing. All aspects of the models have to be edible but the rest of the game is up to you!
Join B Gallant Homes Gingerbread today and start working on your dream gingerbread house now, it will be displayed in Vancouver Island Conference Centre and viewed by over 2000 people. Even better, you will have the opportunity to showcase your business to the community. The display will be open the public for the whole of December, and you are invited to the Nanaimo Chamber Presents Sneak Peek into Gingerbread Village evening on November 21st at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, prizes will be awarded to the winners.
It is a $300 entry fee to participate in the competition, $50 will go directly to the Nanaimo Salvation Army’s housing programs. 6 slabs of gingerbread and 2 royal icing containers will be provided to help you turn your talents into one of the tastiest houses in the world! Not only is B Gingerbread Homes event a wonderful way to get your team together for a teambuilding event, but it is also a way to showcase your company to Nanaimo and other business partners.
The deadline for submitting an application is on Thursday October 31, 2019.
Cold Front Gelato specializes in making innovative gelato flavours while respecting the Italian tradition of using local, fresh ingredients. They pride themselves in their “from scratch” methods that involve the production of their own purées, syrups, and sauces to produce the highest quality, natural gelato. Cold Front also proudly serves Milano Coffee and a premium selection of teas from a variety of incredible BC based tea companies.
The Cold Front journey began in Bologna, Italy. Studying the traditional methods of gelato production, the goal was to create a world class gelato right here on Vancouver Island. The result is a mixture of traditional and innovative flavours, made fresh daily, drawing inspiration from Italy and the West-Coast. One important tradition is their commitment to work with as many local producers and artisans as we can.
The greatest part of winning the Nanaimo Business Award for best New Business was “knowing that the people of Nanaimo nominated us and took the time to vote for our business.” They are so grateful to all of their customers for sticking with them in their first year as a starting business.
One of their newest initiatives at Cold Front is to include pastries to go with our gelato, coffee, and tea. Their second new offering is their delivery program. Customers can go online at coldfrontgelato.com and order pints delivered right to their homes Monday – Friday!
Check out their website at www.coldfrontgelato.com, like them on Facebook at Cold Front Gelato, or follow them on Instagram at @coldfrontgelato!
Business Resource & Relocation Guide
M-F: 8:30am to 4:30pm
2133 Bowen Rd,
Nanaimo, BC V9S 1H8