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Economic picture positive for Nanaimo

The Conference Board of Canada says a recent study paints a positive economic picture for Nanaimo.

Nanaimo was included in its Mid-Sized Cities Outlook-2014 report at the request of Sasha Angus, Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation CEO, to provide a third-party perspective on the local economy.

The report provides economic forecasts for for eight cities, including Nanaimo; Lethbridge, Red Deer and Medicine Hat, Alta.; Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.; Timmins and Sault St. Marie, Ont.; and Brandon, Man.; that contributed financially to the research.

"It allows us to put ourselves in context compared to other centres of our size," Angus said.

The report anticipates Nanaimo's economic growth will hit 2.1 per cent for 2014 – an encouraging improvement over the previous three years which posted economic growth of 1.5 per cent.

About 2,000 people are expected to immigrate to the city between 2014-15, pushing the population for greater Nanaimo, including Cedar, Lantzville and other outlying communities, over the 100,000 mark.

Finance, insurance and real estate is expected to start recovering this year. In fact, the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board recently posted the best June housing sales figures for the Island since 2007.

Angus said housing sales indicate more people are finding full-time jobs – employment is expected to slip through the remainder of 2014, but bounce back in 2015 – which boosts economic confidence overall. Much of that confidence is coming from the professional, science and technology and manufacturing sectors.

"I think it confirms what we've seen. Anecdotally, as well as the data that we're seeing, which is obviously strengthening economic conditions, a rise in our growth rate ... in large part due to a number of our businesses that export goods and services around the world," Angus said. "The lower Canadian dollar certainly helps for those types of businesses and what it means is a transition from part-time employment to more full-time employment."

To learn more, please visit the Conference Board of Canada website at www.conferenceboard.ca and click on Mid-Sized Cities Outlook 2014.

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