Nanaimo Economic Development Update

By Sasha Angus

October was a busy month in Nanaimo for a number of reasons. The community hosted Canada’s top banker, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, at the sold out Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s State of the Island Economic Summit.

Carney’s presence gained national and international attention for Nanaimo as an important economic hub. Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell were also in attendance, speaking with delegates about the opportunities Vancouver Island and Nanaimo can embrace by looking to new opportunities around the world.

Most of all, October was important because it was Small Business Month in British Columbia. For our community, small businesses are incredibly important to our economic prosperity, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the businesses in Nanaimo.

The jobs that they create and the investment they make help to foster the quality of life that we all enjoy and strengthen the fabric of our community. Recognizing the importance that small businesses play throughout B.C., the provincial government recently celebrated local efforts to help build a positive business environment, and selected Nanaimo as one of six Small Business Friendly communities in 2012.

So how are we fairing this year? So far in 2012, we welcomed 712 new businesses into our community, the majority of them small- and medium-sized businesses.

A testament to the nature of our region, they cover a broad range of industries including everything from health and wellness services to construction and engineering. This year, new construction businesses have led the way, accounting for more than 20 per cent of new businesses in Nanaimo, followed closely by retail businesses and professional, scientific and technical service businesses at 14 per cent each.

Contributing roughly half of the new businesses so far, they are important barometers because of their large contribution to our economic activity ($1.8 billion for retail alone), as well as our efforts to continue diversifying and strengthening local employment opportunities in Nanaimo.

So while it may not technically be Small Business Month anymore, we should always remember the contribution that small businesses make to a vibrant community, and say a big thank you for all they do for Nanaimo.

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