Opinion

Nanaimo open for business

In its newest ad campaign, the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation means business.

The municipality’s arms-length economic development branch isn’t pulling any punches as it buys up print advertisements in Victoria publications that compare the Harbour City with the Capital Region as a place to live and do business. The ad trumpets Nanaimo’s lower commercial lease rates and house prices and the resulting “incredible quality of life.”

Maybe it isn’t as bloodthirsty as a political attack ad, but it’s aggressive enough to be eye-catching in the capital.

Taxpayers in Nanaimo have a right to expect that economic development dollars are expertly managed and directed toward worthwhile projects with tangible outcomes. We’ve grumbled plenty about what we’ve perceived as the NEDC’s missed opportunities and misplaced priorities, but the corporation deserves praise this time for its initiative.

There isn’t much chance of the ad backfiring – even if we irritate some Victoria business leaders today, they would never hesitate to co-operate with Nanaimo tomorrow if there are bucks to be made. If the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation’s ads pay off, so much the better, and not only do we gain some tax dollars but also new neighbours, more jobs and fresh thinking.

NEDC chief executive officer Sasha Angus calls the campaign “proactive” and that’s how his corporation needs to act. Angus knows, and Sun Tzu knows, and we know, too, that business needs an art-of-war mentality sometimes.

Because there are a whole lot of municipalities that style themselves as ‘open for business.’ In Nanaimo, we’re open to humongous incinerators and medical marijuana grow ops, true, but hey, we’re also open to Victoria businesses relocating here. Basically, the NEDC is saying we’re open for business, period. And that’s where economic development begins.

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