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Nanaimo aims to lure Victoria business north

The Greater Victoria Development Agency is taking no offence to Nanaimo’s new campaign to lure away Capital Region businesses – it’s urging the Harbour City to think bigger.

Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation has just launched a print campaign in the province’s capital, aimed at showcasing the Harbour City as an affordable and attractive alternative for Capital Region and Victoria businesses.

The two-month long $7,500 advertising strategy highlights the testimonials of Nanaimo business leaders and what keeps them in the Harbour City in an attempt to show how the community stacks up as a place for expansion and relocation.

According to Sasha Angus, chief executive officer for Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, no community has a right to the businesses that operate within its borders, making it important to ensure the Nanaimo area remains competitive as an attractive place to invest and do business.

“It’s smart and it’s ... maybe aggressive is the wrong word but definitely proactive,” Angus said, of the Victoria campaign.

But is it thinking big enough?

The Greater Victoria Development Agency’s Dallas Gislason said it is common practice in the economic development world for communities to try and convince assets to relocate and nothing to get offended about, but Nanaimo has an opportunity to look at the larger picture.

“If we are competing in amongst ourselves [that’s] not economic development, [that’s] moving pawns around rather than looking at the bigger picture,” Gislason said, adding he’d like to see the two communities collaborate in positioning Vancouver Island for foreign investment.

Metropolitan cities like Vancouver, Seattle and Portland are making decisions to ‘go global’ and don’t necessarily need Vancouver Island to get involved.

“We have to bring ourselves to that table,” he said.

So far, overtures made by the Greater Victoria Development Agency to work together with Nanaimo have been unsuccessful but Gislason said the opportunity and the offer remains.

“I wouldn’t let this campaign get in the way of that,” he said.

However Angus isn’t convinced the best model for attracting larger investment is a partnership between Nanaimo and Victoria alone, pointing out it should be an Island-wide effort.

“Do we need to increase overall investment in the Island, absolutely,” Angus said. “[But] we still need to be competitive between jurisdictions when businesses are here looking for a positive business environment or looking at expanding.”

The Victoria-based business campaign is the beginning of a strategy to make the case for Nanaimo, which will also include direct marketing to businesses seen as a good fit for the city.

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