2021 opened up NOT with a clean slate, but with a continuing murky slate. The pandemic is a reality impacting everybody, including all local businesses, for nearly a year now. It’s changed all of our daily lives and certainly turned the Chamber’s world upside down.

 

The Chamber was an organization that brought people together 40-50 times a year knitting the business community’s social network. Last March we quickly turned our attention to the importance of delivering vital information to help guide businesses to government aid and support and virtual programs providing insight, education, and inspiration. We’ve been doing so much more behind the scenes, we decided on this report to shine a light on this work for you.

 

In January, the Chamber agreed to participate in the rebuilding Tourism Nanaimo. Local stakeholders – Nanaimo Chamber, Nanaimo Hospitality Association, Snuneymuxw, Petroglyph Developments, VICC, and Nanaimo Port Authority – are among those being tasked to create a new community-based model. The Chamber looks forward to developing an organization that will help our local community rebound from the cataclysmic impact Covid has had on travel, tourism and hospitality.

 

We also helped lead other Island Chambers in a letter writing campaign to support a local business with touch points in many Island communities — Wilson’s Transportation’s Tofino Bus. The recent suspension of this business has implications beyond tourism — Tofino Bus was the only safe transportation option for many First Nations communities in the mid-Island region – 21 communities to be precise. This prompted the Nanaimo Chamber to engage with the Regional District to encourage an examination of how we can create safe, inexpensive inter-regional travel in the future.

 

Nanaimo led Chamber leaders across BC in support of Mayor Krog and the UBCM ‘big city mayors’ consortium in the province to acknowledge the need for a dramatic shift in thinking to deal with the three crises we’re staring down – affordable housing, addiction, and homelessness. We also requested the Province look into its century-old municipal charter to open the ability for municipalities to look beyond property taxes and utilities as their main sources of revenue while senior governments continue to download onto local taxpayers.

 

In January, the Chamber’s role on “Mayor & Council’s Task Forces on Health & Housing” and a task force on “Economic Development” ended with major reports to Council. The reports and attendant action plans have been approved by Council. This concludes over twelve months of cooperative work by community leaders who gave a tremendous amount of themselves during difficult times and conditions. The Chamber is proud of the outcome, especially the Nanaimo Prosperity Agency – a new external economic development agency reporting to the City and governed by community stakeholders.

 

The Chamber approached City Council February 17 seeking a staff report on the impact of freezing commercial tax rate increases this year due to Covid’s impact on small business locally. The motion passed. At the very least, we’ve drawn attention to the pandemic’s impact on local business, we will benefit from the report from the City finance department, and we will have started the discussion on the future of Nanaimo’s tax structure and its impact on business. We’ll keep reporting back on our further progress to relieve the tax burden on the community.

 

The Chamber has planned Virtual Events this year replacing our ‘live’ events with new experiences. And it’s not just “Chamber on Zoom”. Try joining us remotely…  we’re making this video-conferencing transition interesting and fun while constantly improving our technology and building solid content!!

 

And please reach out to agree or disagree with me at any time.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Kim Smythe, President & CEO

P: (250) 756-1191 X. 1

ceo@nanaimochamber.bc.ca

Minute Men Moving & Storage Facility Upgrade

You may have heard that Minute Men Moving & Storage is expanding their facilities.  They are currently in the process of building a new warehouse, which is expected to be finished by April 2020.

In building the new warehouse Minute Men is helping create multiple jobs in Nanaimo throughout the entire planning and construction phase of the project.  With the expanded facilities Minute Men will also have the chance to grow their own staff including their professional moving crews and their office staff.

Their new warehouse will be the newest and largest state of the art facility of its type on Vancouver Island, which is an exciting addition to Nanaimo.  With Nanaimo being centrally located, it allows Minute Men’s products and services to be offered throughout Vancouver Island, thus helping drive the Nanaimo economy.

With the building of the new warehouse comes some great enhancements to their business.  In the past, they have stuck mostly with residential moving and storage, but with the growth they will be able to facilitate commercial storage and warehousing.  Their use of container storage can be increased since the new facility is planned to be much larger than their current one.  Minute Men Moving and Storage will also be a fully functioning Customs Bonded warehouse facility.  This will be the only one in the mid island.

The building of a larger warehouse is not the only plan on the horizon for Minute Men Moving and Storage.  Their goal is to continue the expansion of their current residential professional moving and storage services, and grow a moving, storage, and warehousing solution to the commercial sector.

Click here to download the PDF! 

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

Click here to download PDF!

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!

Click here to download the PDF!

Report to Council October 28. 2019

Findings & Recommendation:

Impact on business and residents of homelessness and social disorder

Click here to download the full report.

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!

Click here to download the PDF! 

Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island is a not for profit organization with a mission to provide affordable homeownership opportunities to families across the Mid-Vancouver Island Region.  Safe, decent, and affordable housing can have a transformative impact on families and on the communities in which they live.  Research shows that kids do better in school, parents’ employment prospects improve, and families are happier and better equipped to face life’s challenges after moving into a Habitat home.

Habitat for Humanity raise funds via their two ReStores, which sell new and used building supplies, home décor, furniture, and lighting, as well as through donations. With the support of their volunteers and community supporters they can build homes for families experiencing housing poverty who would not qualify for a regular mortgage.

Winning this award was “wonderful as it showed us that our local community in Nanaimo is supportive of our mission and understands what we are working to achieve.”

The impact of the winning the award has been to encourage everyone at Habitat for Humanity to think about how they can go even further to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility goals.  For example, they are looking at working with local contractors to divert even more waste from landfill, they are planning to hold community clean up events, and they have big ambitions to be able to provide more affordable homes for local families than ever before.

Habitat for Humanity has a busy few years ahead of them with home builds planned for the Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo and will hopefully be expanding into other parts of the Mid-Island region. They would like to welcome more volunteers into our ReStores and onto our Build Sites and keep connecting with communities at local events.

Check out their website at www.habitatmvi.org, like them on Facebook at Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island, or follow them on Instagram at @habitatmvi!

Click here to download PDF!

NANAIMO – September 11, 2019

NANAIMO CHAMBER ANNOUNCES FEDERAL ELECTION CANDIDATES’ FORUM

The Nanaimo Chamber announces it will be holding a Candidates Forum for the October 21 federal election announced today.

“We now have confirmation from the four candidates that will be attending,” according to Kim Smythe, Chamber CEO, “This would include Bob Chamberlin, NDP; Michelle Corfield, Liberals; John Hirst, Conservatives; and current Member of Parliament Paul Manly of the Green Party. Ian Holmes of Nanaimo News Now will moderate.”

The Forum will be held in Beban Park Social Centre on Thursday, October 10 with the doors opening for a Candidate Meet and Greet at 5:30 pm. The debate among the candidates will begin at 7:00 pm. Questions will be accepted in advance at info@nanaimochamber.bc.ca and during the event. The event will be live-streamed.

Smythe continued, “The cost of these events continues to be a challenge for the Chamber so we’re very appreciative of the financial support offered by Vancouver Island University, Canadian Home Builders Association, and the National Association of Federal Retirees plus our media supporters”.

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For more information:

KIM SMYTHE: 250-756-1191

Click here to download PDF.

Living Better Starts Here

Alair is a Custom Contracting Company that offer its clients, partners, trade partners, and employees a unique, high quality, and fully transparent experience.  The result of each project is a beautiful, custom-built, and expertly crafted home.  More importantly, Alair delivers a positive experience with life-changing results.

Alair was thrilled to have won the award.  “We’re very flattered to receive the award and its recognition is of great help in standing out in a very competitive industry.”  Acknowledging the competition of custom contractors here in Nanaimo, winning the award is bringing a new light to them

One thing Alair Homes is looking forward to in the future is help improve peoples lives through home happiness. They feel they are in “the human life improvement business and not the construction industry.”  They operate with the viewpoint that their greatest competitive advantage lies with the personal relationships formed between all team members across Alair.

Check out their website at www.alairhomes.ca/nanaimo, like them on Facebook at Alair Homes Nanaimo, or follow them on Instagram at @alairhomesnanaimo!

Click here to download PDF.