ECONOMIC UPDATE: Stakeholders discuss business challenges in Nanaimo region

NANAIMO – Latest meeting focused on manufacturing industry on central Island.

By Sasha Angus

The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation met with a group of the region’s leading manufacturers recently to discuss the topic of best practices. Leaders representing Inuktun Services, Nanaimo Sheet Metal, VMAC, Pi Granite/Studio Kitchens, Coastland Wood Industries and Nanaimo Precast were in attendance, and provided fantastic insight into the operations of Nanaimo- and region-based manufacturers.

The program, 2014 Nanaimo Business Counts, is an extension of the NEDC’s business retention and expansion programs, which have interviewed various industry groups on the opportunities and challenges of conducting business in the region. This year, the NEDC is delivering this value-added program for our companies based on grassroots feedback from industry. For each sector group, a topic has been selected based on that feedback to benefit participating companies, as well as the larger business community through subsequent reporting.

‘Managing efficiency and productivity’ was the topic selected for the manufacturing group, and this theme yielded a lively and insightful discussion. For example, the challenge of adapting traditionally uniform processes to fit increasingly custom client demands was discussed at length. “How can we standardize our process when almost every product requested is unique?” was a subject identified as the new business reality facing many companies in this sector. Complex information technology, staffing, resource management and outsourcing were also explored.

Another topic of particular interest was the ‘re-shoring movement.’ This describes the process of shifting outsourcing that was once overseas back to the region, which has a number of positive implications for our economy and strength of our companies.

When regional labour and resources are utilized, local supply chains are supported which aids the business community as a whole. There is a great benefit for regional businesses to collaborate with each other where possible, to access value close to home.

The Nanaimo Business Counts program represents an excellent opportunity for business leaders to share information and learn from one another, and also for NEDC staff to gain insight into the needs of our key companies so that we can improve our services. Business retention and expansion is a powerful exercise utilized in economic development, and one that the NEDC will continue to deliver to Nanaimo and region companies for years to come.

Sasha Angus is CEO of Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation.