CHAMBER CHAT: Nanaimo chamber of commerce celebrates 125 years

By Kim Smythe

Happy 125th anniversary!

It’s not often you get to wish somebody a happy birthday or anniversary numbering in the three digits, but you’ve got that chance this year when Nanaimo’s Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 125th year of service.

Back in the spring of 1889, a handful of civic-minded folk organized their community of 4,000 to select a group of representative business leaders and charged them with the role economic development and commercial oversight. The boundaries of Nanaimo, at the time, extended to Townsite Road in the north, Fifth Street to the south and Pine Street to the west. A hot topic of conversation was whether the community really needed more than two full-time firefighters to protect its citizens.

How things have changed. Today the community’s licensed businesses number nearly 6,000 and, of course, the population is closing in on 90,000. The importance of having an organization representing the entire business community has never been greater and the chamber’s conversations now span municipal taxation, transportation planning, future growth of the industrial tax base, expanded tourism marketing, serving the central and north Island as a commercial and service hub, and attracting more businesses to diversify our economic profile.

This year, our focus will be on supporting our community partners as they continue to extend their services to the business community, encouraging the expansion of tourism marketing, helping downtown to enhance its attractiveness as a shopping and community events centre, improving our transportation assets and connectivity, increasing opportunities for success for startup businesses, and keeping our elected officials mindful that the chamber’s goal is a better community through better business. Government advocacy, networking events, professional development opportunities and cost-savings through group benefits and services are just some of the advantages offered by the chamber to each member, while we work on behalf of the business community as a whole.

As we enter our 125th year and celebrate our new relevancy, we’re focused on continuing to prove the importance of your chamber to the quality of life and business in our successful city.

– Kim Smythe is the CEO of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce

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