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BUSINESS The iT Crowd

In Nanaimo

Input Logic leading the edge of technology wave in Harbour City

genuine Hub City Easy access via land, water or air aids in Nanaimo's growth and expansion

mid-island Trade gateway Nanaimo proves to be an economic import/export trade machine

Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada


COMMERCIAL PROJECT

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BUSINESS

Vancouver Island University graduate Erin MacDonald

Contents

In Nanaimo

bETH HENdRy-yim is an award winning writer and speaker and small business owner who has lived, worked and played in Nanaimo for almost 30 years.

The Harbour City:

A freelance writer, her articles have been published in magazines and newspapers including: Island Parent, WestCoast Family, Natural Life, Nanaimo News Bulletin, and backofthebook.com. With her husband, Dr. John Yim, she manages two websites focused on promoting science based natural medicine and healthy living: healthy-living-coach.com and thehealingkitchen.ca.

Success Story: VI University student Erin MacDonald gives back

As an advertorial specialist, Beth combines her passion for positive reporting with interviewing and highlighting the motivational and energetic people and businesses of Nanaimo. She never tires of hearing their stories and showcasing their innovative business success. diRK HEydEmaNN of Heydemann Art of Photography and HA Photography has his photo studio located in the beautiful Harbour City. He has been shooting professionally as a commercial and wedding photographer for more than 20 years. The best and most rewarding part of his job is seeing and hearing that his images have made an impact and difference in people’s lives. Dirk is thrilled to be a part of the Business in Nanaimo magazine team.

Publisher: Maurice Donn Editor: Melissa Fryer Production Manager: Janice Marshall Creative: Teresa Laird Advertising Sales: Sean McCue Advertising and Editorial Inquiries: 250-753-3707 Business in Nanaimo is published by Black Press for Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. ON THE COVER: The It Crowd: Input Logic leading the edge of technology wave in Harbour City. Photo by Heydemann Art of Photography.

Location, location, location

The Technology Problem Solvers: Input Logic Inc. on the leading edge

Sector: Transportation: Options equal growth

Cedar Road Bio Energy: Innovative waste stream reprocessing creates energy

St. Jean's Cannery & Smokehouse: Home grown success story

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6 Sector: Education Vancouver Island University offers strong programs and uniqueness Sector: Arts & Culture community heart Sector: Dining from familiar to exotic Sector: Facilities health, fitness, leisure Sector: Tourism variety creates interest Sector: Marine harbour remains economic driver Harbour Stewards the mid-Island gateway Sector: Construction holding its own Sector: Retail from eclectic to big box

10 11 12 16 18 19 20 22 23 Companies lead economic shift

business investment factor in low unemployment

25 Hotel adds international flair close proximity to conference centre draws Chinese interest 26 The little mill that could beating the odds 28 Sector: Film local attributes attract film industry 30 Sector: Real Estate affordability drives market

104 Front Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5H7 Phone: 250-591-1551 Email: info@investnanaimo.com www.investnanaimo.com

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© Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. All rights reserved. For editorial matters, please contact the editor. The views of contributors do not necessarily reflect the policy or views of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, its Board of Directors, nor that of the publisher. The publisher cannot be held responsible for loss or damage to unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. The publisher is not responsible for the content of any advertisement, or any representations made therein. No part of Business in Nanaimo may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher. investnanaimo.com

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The Harbour City N

anaimo sits on the east coast of Vancouver Island on the 49th parallel, 110 kilometres northwest of Victoria, the province’s capital, and 55 km from Vancouver across the Salish Sea. Originally named Snuneymuxw by Coast Salish, it was once the location of five separate aboriginal villages. Rimmed by islands, the picturesque harbour offers protected moorage for Nanaimo’s thriving and growing community in one of the prettiest all­ purpose ports in the world. Its many marinas and wharfs provide moorage for the weekend sailor, dedicated yachtsman and serious fishers, with

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deep anchorage for cargo and cruise ships in safe and calm waters. Newcastle Island, a 336­hectare provincial marine park managed by Snuneymuxw First Nation, with steep sandstone cliffs and ledges and sandy gravel beaches stands sentinel to the entry of Departure Bay and sits with Protection Island in the city’s harbour.  Both islands are easily accessed via a charming foot ferry that takes just a few minutes. Smaller islands dot the city’s seascape and offer opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, kayaking or scuba diving. Less than 5 km to the east of the city lies one of the larger Gulf Islands

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well known for its gallery of natural rock formations and native stone carvings. Gabriola Island’s 4,000 residents enjoy a relaxed lifestyle with a strong community feel. Its large artisan population and thriving cottage industry play host to several arts and crafts tours throughout the year. Towering over the city, often dusted with snow until late spring, is Mount Benson. Covered in lush green forest it dominates the landscape. Offering unique hiking trails for both novice and experienced hikers it affords unforgettable views at the summit of the Salish Sea, Vancouver, and the coastal mountain range. ‹‹‹


Success Story A Vancouver Island University

ERiN maCdONald uses her master’s degree in business administration to benefit the community

E

rin MacDonald is a Vancouver Island University success story. Not only has she landed a dream job, but she stayed here in Nanaimo as the she communications coordinator for the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. Raised in Nanaimo, MacDonald attended the university fresh out of high school. But without a focus only dabbled in different courses. It wasn’t until she hit 30 that she decided to try the business administration program. “At the time I was living in Vancouver and could have attended one of the institutions there, but the affordability and lower cost of living brought me home.” She talks excitedly about her four years at the school, her voice animated as she recounts the exceptional learning environment and camaraderie. “With small class sizes and team approach, you get to know your classmates and professors and feel comfortable using them to bounce ideas off,” she said. You hear that a lot from students at the university. Small class size is important. You don’t feel like an anonymous face in a crowd, you’re an intimate, working and vital part of a group. MacDonald said that was the best part of her education. “The program at VIU is project based,” she said. “You learn strategic thinking and how to work effectively with people.” She believes this type of learning better prepared her for a work environment. You don’t always get to choose the people you work with,

she said. Experiencing different communication styles in the classroom is more realistic and teaches a more methodical and open way of thinking. “With applied education, there is lots of interaction, networking and opportunities for creativity,” she explained. “It makes you think outside the box.” As communications coordinator, the well­rounded education she received at VIU is serving her well. It’s a demanding position, as the real estate board has 1,000 members and MacDonald’s job involves working with members as well as the media. The list of jobs she manages is impressive, from weekly news alerts, event planning, marketing, to keeping Twitter feeds and YouTube videos updated and current. “It’s a big position,” she said. “But I have the education and the credentials. I understand how to analyze the best way to deliver a message to an audience.” MacDonald credits team strategy sessions and presentations for improving her ability to communicate effectively. She describes the presentations as opportunities to share concepts. With professors open and flexible to changing the parameters of learning, some of those concepts develop into new and better ideas. “The professors want you to succeed,” she said. “[They share] your

excitement, wanting you to put yourself out there, be creative and at the same time be efficient and effective.” After graduating, she moved to Vancouver, thinking the larger city would have more job opportunities. But when the opportunity at the real estate board came up, she jumped and landed with both feet firmly planted in a job she enjoys and put her right where she wanted to be. ‹‹‹

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SECTOR:

EDUCATION abORigiNal CUlTURE, aquaculture program helps make Vancouver Island University unique

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ne of the most stunning universities in British Columbia, Vancouver Island University (VIU) affords a bird’s eye view of the Nanaimo Harbour, Salish Sea and expansive Coastal Mountains. It matches that heart­stopping view with an inclusive, community centered culture, the highest quality education and innovative, progressive and sustainable initiatives. Taking an active role in the commu­ nity through partnerships with employ­ ees, community organizations and First Nations leaders, the university provides relevant and responsive programs and services as well as an envi­ ronment for discus­ sion of VIU has a history important of excellence issues. “The and dedication university to providing a encour­ ages vibrant centre public of learning and debate to support engagement. success and develop­ ment,” said Dan Hurley, executive director of university relations. It sets a great example for the students attending the university, more than 2,000 of which are aboriginal and more than 1,500 from other countries. First Nations make up 12 per cent of VIU’s student population and as the university sits on traditional Snuneymuxw territory, a $2.2 million

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Gathering Place opened in 2011 to provide aboriginal students and others a student lounge, elders’ lounge, and office space for VIU’s Aboriginal Student Services department. Feasts and special ceremonies held in the centre acknowledge the aboriginal groups in the area and respect cultural protocols. “Supporting First Nations encourages the process of reconciliation,” said Hurley. “And as a result of continued dialogue can move the multiple stakeholders towards a more compassionate view of all peoples.” VIU offers certificate, diploma, degree, continuing education and adult basic education programming. Program areas include art, business, culinary arts, science, education, health, aquaculture, technology, tourism, academic and career preparation, First Nations, and trades and applied technology. Master’s degrees can be earned in education, educational leadership, business administration, education in special needs, and arts in sustainable leadership management. New programming includes global education graduate diploma for certified teachers, and a new graduate program in online learning and teaching. To satisfy a high demand for power engineers, VIU in partnership with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology, created a fourth class power engineering certificate.

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VIU has a stellar reputation in the global community, attracting international students from around the world eager for a high quality education in a smaller, intimate, hands­on environment. More than 1,500 students bring diversity, fresh ideas and major financial investments in the community. Some stay but others return home with increased cultural awareness and openness. Health and wellness play a large role in the university community, with home sports games well attended and loudly supported. For seven consecutive years, VIU Mariners were the top overall athletic program in the Pacific Western Association (PACWEST). The list of accolades for the various sports teams is impressive. Not only does VIU excel at athletics but it also is contributing substantial research through the Center for Coast Health, Centre for Shellfish Research and community­based Research Institute, and research in fraud and ethics, brain physiology, resilience and recreation and tourism. The Centre for Shellfish Research received considerable investment at the Nanaimo campus and its Deep Bay Marine Field Station with the goal to become an international centre of excellence in shellfish aquaculture by providing leading edge


research facilities to academic, government and industry collaborators focusing on sustainability, animal production and technology development. The program is filling education and training needs with relevant information in appropriate settings, and generating public confidence and support through community and First Nations involvement. The centre has also developed a considerable capacity for technology transfer and training, which is particularly important for the many First Nations that are becoming actively involved in creating shellfish farming operations in their communities.

As climate change is a relevant issue, the university, as a leader and role model, has implemented policies to reduce the university’s environmental footprint through more efficient lighting, reduced paper use and elimination of bottled water. VIU has a history of excellence and dedication to providing a vibrant centre of learning and engagement. Its active involvement in the community plays a major role in the economic and cultural growth of the city. ‹‹‹

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The Technology

S

hawn Adrian and Gavin Vickery solve problems. And they do it well. In 2010, the Nanaimo entrepreneurs and founders of Input Logic Inc. developed software to help designers and coders like themselves create winning proposals in graphic design. “QuoteRobot automates proposals – you fill out a form and out pops a template ready to present,” Adrian said. “Not only does it allow you a quicker response to clients, but it also presents a nicer looking proposal.” In April of 2013 they launched another problem solving application, Postach.io. And though QuoteRobot is currently the company’s bread and butter, Postach.io promises to reach an even bigger market as it targets the 65 million users of Evernote. The program takes material, created and stored in Evernote, and uploads it to a blog platform with a click of a button, said Adrian, with no cutting and pasting or reformatting. After only three months it has more than 5,000 users and has gotten front­page attention of tech

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BUSINESS IN NANAIMO

magazines like Hacker News. A self taught and self­appointed nerd, Adrian started playing with computers at a young age. And though he’s had no formal training the 31­year­ old came to Nanaimo 10 years ago as a freelance graphic designer. “Lots of opportunities flow through Nanaimo,” he said. “And it’s got a variety of activities like hiking, biking and sailing.” An added bonus is that Vancouver is only 90­minute ferry trip and 15­minute flight away. And when they went to look for investors they didn’t have to look far, hooking up with investment company, Full Stack Ventures. They raised $200,000 through Full Stack and were able to put new client work on hold and focus on developing and creating Postach.io. Their vision is paying off. They recently won a trip to the Dublin Web Summit, a pitch competition where Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, will be speaking. “Innovation Island hosted a Pub Summit in Nanaimo where you pitch an idea and compete for the best

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presentation and idea. We won and got the trip to Dublin.” They have another trip on the horizon – Adrian and Vickery won the Evernote­hosted Devcup 2013. The company earned the $20,000 prize and a trip to the San Francisco office to work for a month with Evernote developers and meet investors. It’s an exciting opportunity to build awareness of their product and grow the business. When a product taps in to millions of Evernote subscribers with a user­friendly format that increases productivity and streamlines word processing and blog posting it’s bound to make a hit. Through the excitement of their upcoming travels Vickery says this kind of work must be balanced with family and play, stressing the importance of a supportive community to the creative process. After sitting in front of a computer for up to eight hours at a stretch, personal interaction is vital. “By its nature computer work is independent, so you crave those conversations around the water cooler


PROBLEM SOLVERS

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NaNaimO ENTREpRENEURS help designers create winning proposals in graphic design

where you can talk to people who understand your language.” Nanaimo has a strong creative presence, one that supports innovative ideas and non­ traditional Nanaimo region is solutions to home to a number exiting problems. Organizations like of world-class tech Innovation Island companies, including act as a voice for technology Input Logic and innovators and Inuktun Robotics. entrepreneurs, providing resources and programming and an environment where ideas can be expressed and discussed. For Adrian and Vickery working with Innovation Island has been a big win and future partnerships eagerly anticipated. For now though, their focus is on fine­tuning their presentations for Evernote developers and coming up with the next great idea. ‹‹‹

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SECTOR: &

ARTS CULTURE

SECTOR reflects heart of our community

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anaimo recognizes the health, social and economic benefits of community involvement in arts and culture and created a cultural strategy to increase activities, expand festivals and provide public places for artistic expression. Employment in the arts and culture sector grew 41 per cent between 2001 and 2006 with an average income of $44,000. Adding millions per year to the economy, the arts and culture sector is a relevant and growing sector of the Nanaimo economy and is reflected in the organ­i­ zations and initiatives the city supports. The creation of an Arts District in the downtown core combines the aesthetic appeal of heritage buildings with the draw of a diverse collection of artists and artistic mediums. You’ll find traditional, community, and ‘edgy’ art walks and two locations for the Nanaimo Art Gallery, downtown and at Vancouver Island University. TheatreOne, a professional theatre company, funded in part by the city and the provincial government, has been encouraging emerging and established artists and craftspersons since 1983. They offer mainstage plays, Fringe Flicks, a children and families entertainment series, and to support new playwrights they host a staged reading series called Emerging Voices. Nanaimo’s music culture is vibrant and very active. From special programming in high school to world-class instruction at the university, Nanaimo fosters and encourages musical talent, producing greats like Diana Krall and Allison Crowe. The Nanaimo Conservatory of Music teaches all ages and involves students in the

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BUSINESS IN NANAIMO

annual Upper Island Musical Festival. The Vancouver Island Symphony provides a variety of programs to engage the community in the enjoyment of live music, including: Noteworthy Kids, a music club for children ages 7-13; elementary, secondary and post-secondary outreach programs; community days; and an educator-only resource site with information on incorporating music in to the curriculum. Under the artistic direction of Pierre Simard, the symphony, in its 16th season, plays a variety of musical genres including pop, classical, romantic and contemporary, and performs in traditional and not-sotraditional settings. An annual multicultural festival that includes family-friendly activities, food, and entertainment, traditional music, song, dance and demonstrations is held to encourage and support our city’s diverse cultural heritage. To invest in these events the city of Nanaimo offers events and operating grants. In addition, cultural awards and civic merit awards are given to those individuals and groups who work hard at supporting Nanaimo’s leadership role in cultural awareness. For the food enthusiast, Nanaimo’s strong food culture offers several

festivals celebrating local bounty. The Harvest Festival showcases all things culinary with displays, interactive presentations, music and delicious food and the Wild Foods Festival highlights the bounty in our backyard with chefs preparing dishes like nettle soup, braised wild mushrooms and salad made with miner’s lettuce. One of the longest running food events, The Bite of Nanaimo, a TheatreOne fundraiser, has showcased local restaurants and eateries for 21 years and is a favourite for many residents. And if you catch the cooking bug from these events, don’t worry, four farmer’s markets from the south end to the north end of Nanaimo provide an incredible array of local food from fish and meat to greens and raw chocolate bars. More than 125 years old the Vancouver Island Exhibition is a cultural affair that hosts an annual Songbird Talent Search, exciting music and magic acts, agricultural demon­ strations, dog sport demonstrations and produce and arts and crafts competitions. Entertaining and community building it’s a celebration of agricultural heritage and entertains both young and old. To track the economic impact these local arts and culture events have on the city and to project what new arts and culture projects, services and facilities would draw more visitors to the Harbour City, Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation has awarded an Arts and Culture Economic Impact Study, to give the corporation the ability to provide timely and relevant information on the impact of these events on the regional economy and business. ‹‹‹


SECTOR:

DINING

Nanaimo offers a wide variety of restaurants from familiar to the exotic

R

estaurants in Nanaimo serve up oceans of possibilities for pleasing any palate from spicy Thai to British pub and everything in between. Whether your tastes run to refined, casual or West Coast you won’t have to go far to experience excellent food. Take a stroll down the seawall and stop at the Lighthouse Bistro, perched over the water with stunning views of the harbour or take a foot ferry to the Dinghy Dock, a floating restaurant

with fresh-caught fish and chips and craft beer. Want a bit of entertainment with dinner? Try the best chowder and martini in town at the Acme Food Co. and listen to local music all weekend long. Loaded with history and flavour, try the Firehouse Grill, voted Best Overall Restaurant in the Nanaimo News Bulletin’s annual Best of the City Awards. Or Kasira, with it’s delicious, authentic Thai cuisine, Amrikko’s and its spicy curries and melt-in-your-mouth naan bread. And for a hint of Paris,

Le Café Francais is perfect for a bit of romance over croissants and cognac. Nanaimo even caters to the non-omnivorous palate with most restaurants offering vegetarian choices and cafés like the Thirsty Camel serving vegan-friendly food. Going raw? Rawmbas and Power House Living Foods serve raw smoothies, entrees and the best non-dairy cheesecake north of New York. For the adventurous foodie, Nanaimo hosts some of the best. ‹‹‹

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SECTOR:

FACILITIES aQUaTiC CENTRES, ball parks and community centres offer plenty of opportunities to stay active

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etting active and keeping fit is easy in Nanaimo. Swimming pools, gyms, ice rinks and community centres offer a variety of fitness options with classes or self­directed workouts. At the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre in the south end of town, down the hill from Vancouver Island University, take a ride on surf waves, or a spin on the waterslide. With both an Olympic­size pool and a children’s water playground, the centre is a great place for families to get active and have fun. But don’t think it’s only for families to enjoy – the steam room, sauna, hot tub and therapeutic river path offer plenty of opportunity for the adults to relax or get some exercise. There are regular classes for all ages and fitness levels in swimming or aquacise and dedicated swim lanes offer the training triathlete or casual swimmer a place to enjoy a good workout and relaxing paddle. Feel more like pumping a bit of iron? The aquatic centre has a large, fully loaded gym with treadmills, stair climbers, elliptic trainers, free weights, and more. Doors open early for those wanting to fit in an early morning workout. Not far from the aquatic centre

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is the Nanaimo Ice Centre. With a strong hockey and skating culture in town, demand for more rink space was steadily increasing. The City of Nanaimo added this facility and incorporated a variety of opportunities for all ages to enjoy some ice time. Beban Park, located in central Nanaimo, is the largest recreational centre in Nanaimo. Indoors there are two ice rinks, swimming pool with river, water slide and family centered water park, warm pool, gym, a large social center with well utilized meeting rooms, auditorium and kitchen. Outdoors the city included a large playground, pitch ’n’ putt, tennis courts, off­leash dog park, forested Participark, BMX bike track, community garden, and soccer fields with a functional, attractive clubhouse. The park also is the location for the Vancouver Island Exhibition, several dog and equine events, large meetings and gatherings, expos, craft fairs and more. As Nanaimo is an active community the city has responded by creating high­quality facilities easily accessed and centrally located. Sports fields play an important role in Nanaimo’s health and wellness and with 21 spread throughout the city to accommodate league play, recreational programs, school physical education classes, tournaments, and special events. The McGirr Sports Fields, in the north end of the city, are one of the largest in Nanaimo, with four baseball diamonds, large field house, lighted fields, bleachers, special turf, soccer and lacrosse areas and electronic scoreboards. Oliver Woods Community Centre in

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north Nanaimo, the first LEED Gold certified community centre in town, offers three hectares of park property that includes two gymnasiums, a preschool room, wellness and multi­ purpose room and community policing station. The forested area includes paths and a large children’s playground and – a first for the area – outdoor, all­weather fitness equipment. The naturally bright building offers users a variety of classes and activities, from badminton to yoga, and meeting rooms are available for private lessons and meetings. As physical and social activity are vital components of a successfully growing city, Nanaimo city council and management created a parks, recreation and culture master plan. The goals of the plan are to continue to create visually pleasing, suitably located, intergenerational facilities and meeting centres that support integration of culture, age and special needs. It’s a proactive approach to leisure activities and a great direction for encouraging and supporting healthy living. ‹‹‹


Combining aesthetics with function

Award-winning conference centre

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ive years after opening its doors for the first time, the award­winning Vancouver Island Conference Centre, in downtown Nanaimo, has seen more than 99,100 delegate days, brought in more than $31 million to the local economy and helped put Nanaimo on the convention map. With more than 3,420 square metres of meeting and banquet space, the conference centre can host small and mid­sized meetings, conferences, trade shows and weddings for up to 1,300. Located downtown, the flagship of the new Port of Nanaimo Centre that includes the Nanaimo Museum, 200­seat­Shaw Auditorium, café and retail shops, sits next to Diana Krall Plaza and public library. Within a stone’s throw from the Port Theatre and harbour, the centre is an architectural gem, fitting in beautifully with the cobblestoned street and heritage buildings of “the greatest street in Canada.”

“It’s enhanced the downtown core, bringing international attention,” said Denise Tacon, conference centre manager. But it isn’t just design drawing accolades. It’s the whole package, including customer service. Debra Lilly, event planner to Oprah Winfrey, cited Nanaimo’s conference centre at an education seminar about excelling in the convention industry. She spoke of the importance in details, from lighting to the greeter at the front door. Her words helped the conference centre win the Silver Service Award from Meeting Professionals International in 2009, beating out Vancouver’s conference centre. “The facility is designed well,” Lilly said. “With natural lighting, in­floor technology that allows for power and Internet connections without a jumble of cords, environmentally friendly amenities and a room flow that’s great for break­out sessions. But we also take pride in providing exceptional customer service.”

Tacon believes several factors are impacting the centre’s success, not least of all the natural beauty surrounding Nanaimo. During free time, visitors enjoy one of the prettiest harbours in Canada, are a short ride to wilderness parks, and can experience a variety of water sports including deep­sea fishing. “It’s an eco tourist’s dream having a conference in Nanaimo,” said Tacon. “Delegates feel like they’re combining a vacation retreat with business.” So far, the only challenge with the conference centre has been a shortage of hotel rooms, but in July 2013 the City of Nanaimo and SSS Manhao International Tourism Group signed a deal for the construction of a first­class hotel in the Gordon Street lot right next to the centre. The 20­story modern style building will have 240 rooms with bold architecture and dramatic design, blending modern with heritage in a perfect marriage. The hotel is expected to open in 2016. ‹‹‹

Functional and friendly

Hospital upgrades

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bright, naturally lit waiting room, efficient isolation pods, and private rooms are all part of the emergency unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Newly renovated, the department showcases the quality of health care residents in Nanaimo can expect. With three­quarters of the city’s population – or 60,000 individuals – visiting the hospital annually, it’s a vital part of the community. Expanded by 3,082 square­metres, the ER renovation triples the size of the existing department and includes a specially designed psychiatric intensive care unit and psychiatric emergency services centre. The $19.7­million renovation streamlined the single­ busiest emergency center on the Island and brought with it innovative technologies and green building elements.

“We had a LEED Gold mandate,” said Cecil Rhodes, corporate director facilities management for Island Health. “We went a step above with natural lighting, thermal retention and functional design to reduce the need for patients traveling from one area to another.” In the past 10 years the hospital has seen various upgrades and improvements. Other renovations included a new Paediatric Ambulatory Health Clinic, a 4,000 square­foot space adjacent to the pediatric unit, which according to Barb Wilson, clinical nurse educator on the perinatal unit, moved care from work­centred to patient­ centred. The hospital has also seen a revitalized and expanded treatment area and pharmacy for the 3,500 chemotherapy patients treated annually, a redesign of the palliative care unit with the addition of six more palliative

care beds and a full­service 1,100 square metre renal dialysis centre. Nanaimo has a lower population to general practitioner ratio than both B.C. and comparably sized cities, with 691 patients per family doctor, compared to 878 provincially. The ratio is indicative of residents' access to healthcare – the lower the ratio, the better access can be expected. As Rhodes explains, consistent review allows for renewal and enhancement in the modalities and types of services available. Master planning and long­term goal setting are ongoing. The next phase of expansion includes improved parking and accessibility. ‹‹‹

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SECTOR:

TRANSPORTATION Transportation options make Nanaimo the Hub City

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s a growing and expanding business and residential centre of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo offers dynamic and comprehensive transportation options. Easily accessed by air, water or land, the city’s transportation network supports and promotes growth and expansion of new and existing

businesses and the needs of local residents. Two vehicle ferries connect the Hub City to Vancouver, each one offering scenic travel and cargo options to the north shore or Tswawassen. Trips take 90 minutes to two hours, and on-ship amenities include full restaurant services, gift shop and child play areas.

Aırport

There is also regular ferry service to Gabriola Island, a 20-minute boat ride from downtown Nanaimo. As a port authority, Nanaimo offers deep-sea facilities, an assembly wharf and new, beautifully appointed cruise ship terminal. Able to provide anchorage for ships up to 300 metres in length in depths of 40-80

bringing the world to Nanaimo

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n established transportation hub, in June 2013 Nanaimo airport got a competitive boost with the addition of daily WestJet Encore flights to and from Calgary. It marks exciting new opportunities for business, travel and employment. In May 2013 there was an increase of 14.3 per cent in passengers using the airport and in June, the increase jumped to 18.5 per cent. “We’ve seen record numbers of passengers using the airport over the past three years,” said Mike Hooper, president and CEO of Nanaimo Airport. Hooper said it’s because people appreciate the airport’s reliability, which has landed in at 99 per cent. “New instrument landing equipment, high intensity lights, and longer runways, ensure landings and take offs happen reliably on time and being inland we are affected less by

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weather events like fog.” The upgraded terminal provides customers with a variety of amenities, including café service, free WiFi and a security system that enables passengers to fly directly to controlled areas of Vancouver and Victoria airports. In an effort to provide visitors with an exceptional experience, YCD has also added Blue Navigators service. “Volunteers from the community wear distinctive clothing and help travelers, arriving or departing with information and direction,” said Hooper. Twelve daily flights to Vancouver, three daily flights to Victoria, three daily flights to Abbotsford and daily flights to Calgary means volunteers are kept busy. “We saw 169,000 passengers in 2011, 185,000 in 2012 and our projection for 2013 is 200,000,” added Hooper. With two airlines, costs are competitive and with a flight to Vancouver taking approximately 15 minutes, it means Nanaimo Airport will continue to expand. And unlike many regional airports Nanaimo has plenty of room to grow, with 40 hectares

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to develop and 720 more metres of taxiways to add. “Nanaimo is the best option for aviation industry,” said Hooper, and not just for passengers. Businesses servicing the aviation industry, from equipment repair to flying lessons, have space and opportunity to expand, with reasonable rental space a huge draw. For the local economy, continuing to develop and expand the airport makes financial sense. It generates 700 direct and indirect jobs and brings in $54 million to the local economy. Projections for 2026 have that increasing to 1,600 full-time jobs and $120 million to local coffers. Reliable air transport with a global reach links a community by increasing its capacity to grow, attract investors and residents, and develop trade relations. It’s one more economic engine driving Nanaimo forward. Connected to the main Island highway, a rail system and a short hop from a major seaport, Nanaimo Airport has a tremendous advantage and opportunity for moving goods and services. When added to the growing potential in disciplines like the resource sector, tourism and high tech industries, having a competitive, reliable and user friendly airport will only serve to help grow Nanaimo’s diverse business environment. ‹‹‹


metres, with additional anchorage in Northumberland Channel, the port offers a transportation option for the transfer of goods. Nanaimo Airport provides daily flights to Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria. State­of­the­art equipment, extended runways and upgraded facilities helped the airport see record numbers of travellers, and administration is constantly striving to ensure exceptional service to its growing customer base. For those in a hurry, daily flights by floatplane connect downtown Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver, Victoria, Comox Harbour

and Sechelt, most taking fewer than 30 minutes. Connecting the port and airport to the rest of the Island is an impressive four­lane highway and inland express bypass. Only 111 kilometres from Victoria and 107 km to Courtenay, the highway connects Nanaimo to all major centers north and south. Within the city a public transportation system serves the Greater Nanaimo area from Cedar in the south to Qualicum Beach in the north, including Nanaimo, Lantzville and Parksville. An integrated service, it provides connections to urban and rural areas, shopping, educational and recreational facilities and offers bike racks and wheelchair accessibility. To encourage the use of plug­in electric vehicles the city installed two charging stations at Beban Park and

one at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre parkade. As the city continues to grow and attract new business and residents, transportation needs will become more complex. Currently developing a transportation master plan, administration is looking at the city’s needs over the next 25 years. That includes all modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, public transit, goods movement and vehicles. Strategic goals involve using tax dollars efficiently, being open to the needs of business and residents, and Easily accessed focusing by air, water or on increasing land, the region's alternative transportation tech­ nology for network supports a sustain­ and promotes able growth and future. ‹‹‹

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expansion.

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SECTOR:

TOURISM Variety of activities to suit all interests of visitors

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hether you’re looking for a unique shopping experience or seeking an eye opening outdoor adventure, Nanaimo has it all. Catch the small-town feel with a stroll along the downtown streets and lanes, taking in a few of the upscale, trendy shops and boutiques. After a leisurely bite at one of the open cafes head down to the Arts District and take in some of the talented artists' work. Round out your day by heading to the stunning four-kilometre waterfront

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walkway, for crabbing on the pier or listening to one of our many musicians perform in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park. World renowned as the Bathtub race capital of the world since 1967, it is a friendly and welcoming city, a mecca for tourists seeking an experience away from home. From water sports to cultural events, it offers world-class accommodation, dining events and unique Island hospitality. As a tourism destination, Nanaimo earned several accolades. Touted as

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one of the best temperate water scuba diving spots in the world, underwater tours include trips to each of the three man-made wreck reefs. North America’s first dedicated bungy jumping bridge is only minutes from downtown, and for dedicated shoppers is the largest shopping mall on Vancouver Island. Nanaimo also boasts a $22-million cruise ship terminal that in 2012 brought more than 9,000 passengers on five large and two small cruise ships. Don’t forget to take in a little fishing. World renowned as a sports fishing


paradise, Vancouver Island brings fast and fun reel action with some of the biggest salmon and halibut. Charter a boat and not only enjoy the excitement of bringing in a monster salmon but keep an eye out for one of the local orca whale or porpoise pods, black bears, gray whales, seals and sea lions and even a diving bald eagle. Worried about taking your catch home? Don’t worry, world famous St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse says, ‘you catch ‘em, we’ll can ‘em.’ Rich history abounds, as B.C.’s third­oldest city, and as a First Nations’ meeting place. A museum located in the conference centre provides educational tidbits and hands­on learning about aboriginals, the coal mining industry, the founding Chinese population and forestry. In 2012 it drew 57,000 visitors. Selecting the bounty from local farms, Nanaimo offers palate­pleasing dining with stunning waterfront views. Award winning chefs create exotic fusion fare with locally caught seafood and fresh organic produce. And for those hunting the perfect Nanaimo bar, take it as a good excuse to do a little comparison shopping on the Nanaimo Bar Trail, a list of twists on the classic treat developed by local food establishments. With the addition of daily flights through WestJet, increasing cruise ship traffic, and the addition of a new downtown hotel beside the conference centre, Nanaimo stands to continue its growth in the tourism industry as a getaway destination and centre of ecotourism. ‹‹‹

Nanaimo boasts most moderate climate in Canada Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Nanaimo lays claim to some of the most moderate temperatures in Canada. Mild winters, with few below-freezing temperatures and ocean breezes keep summer sizzle to a pleasant average of 22 C. Nestled on the east side of the central Island mountain range and touched by warm airstreams from the Pacific, Nanaimo enjoys more milder days than anywhere else in Canada. And, according to the National Weather survey, also lays claim to the clearest skies in summer, least snow days in winter and fewest thunderstorms in all of Canada. Westerly ocean winds and regional mountains act as buffers protecting the city and giving it one of the lowest rainfall averages on the West Coast. The precipitation that does fall is key to the lush vegetation and beautiful gardens found in and around the city and the numerous lakes and rivers minutes from downtown.

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SECTOR:

MARINE a maJOR economic driver for the region

Vancouver Island University's aquaculture centre in Deep Bay.

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ith a long history in commercial fisheries Nanaimo encourages new, renewable and sustainable methods of continuing to harvest bounty from our coastal waters. More than 80 species of fin and shellfish are caught and processed along our coast and marine plants are rapidly becoming a valuable resource for products from skincare to fertilizer. But it isn’t only from the sea that our fisheries bring in a hefty haul, freshwater fish also provide a feasible business harvest. Taste of B.C. Aquafarms Inc., a local­ family­run company, with support from provincial and federal governments and local aquaculture company, PR Aqua, created a closed freshwater trout system

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that at peak production will produce 100 tonnes of fish per year. They’re serving a hungry market with demand far outstripping supply. Grants from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and British Columbia’s Agriculture Innovation Fund and National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program program totaled $582,500 and represents the largest single investment in freshwater aquaculture. The farm is a model of low­tech efficiency with a sustainable system where 98 per cent of water used is cleaned and recirculated through the tanks, putting only two per cent back in to groundwater on the property. The technology serves as a business prototype, teaching facility

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for Vancouver Island University’s aquaculture program and as research facility for PR Aqua. Closed­fish growing operations are rapidly becoming the new model for commercial fishing. Low environmental impact and relative ease in harvesting makes it a feasible alternative in a business with dramatic fluctuations in stock from year to year. Sturgeon, a highly profitable, long­ lived fish is also grown on the farm. Caviar or roe collected from these behemoths is highly prized and very profitable. Though this fish takes approximately 13 years to mature, over its lifetime it will produce thousands of dollars worth of delectable caviar. Vancouver Island University's Centre for Shellfish Research is providing insight into sustainable aquaculture, as well as graduates interested and able to work in the growing field. Taste of BC’s venture was spawned by a need for enhanced methods in applied research and commercialization of aquaculture. With resources and facilities readily available in the region, we are poised to see the industry, with its inherent advantages, grow and evolve as a new and additional commercial fishery. ‹‹‹


Harbour stewards NaNaimO pORT Authority gateway for trade on mid-Island

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nchored at Nanaimo’s Port Authority, a large tanker waits for its hold to be loaded with raw timber. To the uninformed eye the ship is massive, but to Bernie Dumas, president and CEO, it’s one of the smaller cargo ships. The port authority is one of 18 federal port authorities and, according to Dumas, act as landowner and steward of 40 hectares and 50 kilometres of Nanaimo waterway. “Port authorities act as gateways for trade,” said Dumas. “We provide the infrastructure and services for importing and exporting goods for all of Canada.” Both the Nanaimo Assembly Importers Wharf and exporters and the Duke Point are going terminal bigger to handle a variety of keep costs projects lower so including barges, bulk being able to cargo and accommodate custom containers, these ships with the means more infra­ economic structure and deep water opportunities to accom­ for getting modate the largest ships. products to “At and from Duke Point the water the global is 18­20 market. meters deep, more than enough to accommodate the biggest cargo ships,” Dumas explained. “Importers and exporters are going bigger to keep costs lower so being able to accommodate these ships means more economic opportunities

for getting products to and from the global market.” It also means more jobs. “Employment at the port is layered,” said Dumas. “We have stevedores unloading the ships, administration, patrol boats, tug operators, security personnel, etc. Then we have the indirect employment of people who rely on the products the port brings to the city.” It’s an economic machine integral to the central Island. With Vancouver’s port rapidly becoming more and more congested, Nanaimo – only 35 km across Georgia Strait – is becoming an appealing option with infinite possibilities. British Columbia is the closest North American shipping point to the Asia Pacific market. And, as Dumas explains, the region has the infrastructure and facilities to accommodate growth and expansion. But the port isn’t only about tankers and shipping goods, it also serves as a point of entry for tourists, through a stunning cruise ship terminal and 300– metre dock, it’s the perfect setting for tourists to experience Nanaimo, with expansive views of the estuary, Jack Point and Gabriola Island from the terminal welcome centre. “On any given day, we see eagles and osprey, otters playing in the water, seals and seal lions resting on the log booms.” And though Dumas says he sometimes takes the striking beauty for granted, tourists are always awestruck and amazed. As the port serves more than one purpose, Dumas and his team must continually consider

all stakeholders in the daily and future planning of the port. “We get no government funding for the day­to­day operation,” said Dumas, adding that the port is self­sufficient. Operating costs must come from revenue generated from shipping fees and government grants. That translates to full engagement in protecting the port commodities. “Our mandate is to act as stewards of the waterfront,” said Dumas. And it isn’t just his shipping clients that he’s considering. NPA is very active in the community, operating the ambulance service to Protection and Gabriola Islands, acting as traffic control for events like the Silly Boat Regatta and Save­On­Foods Dragonboat Festival and managing leases on marinas in Newcastle Channel. Successful partnerships like those the Port Authority fosters sets a higher standard of cooperation and with that comes an enhanced ability to grow and expand. Nanaimo and the port authority are sailing in to a bright future with the goal of seeing the region reach its highest potential. ‹‹‹

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SECTOR:

CONSTRUCTION CONSTRUCTiON boom

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anaimo weathered the recession storm of 2008­2009 better than most cities,” said Andrew Tucker, director of planning for the City of Nanaimo, adding that though we saw a drop in housing starts in that time, the market recovered well and increased in 2010­11 by approximately 20 per cent. Compared to Victoria, whose housing starts declined in 2010 over 2009, Nanaimo held its own. Tucker says the figures tell a larger story, especially when viewed with commercial building. “The markets are cyclical,” said Tucker.

When commercial starts have been up, residential is lower and vice versa. The city is now seeing a leveling off and correction in 2013. While residential starts in 2010 saw a record high, with 455 single dwelling permits issued, commercial dipped, and then saw an increase in 2011 and 2012 when housing starts slowed. The upswing in commercial, included major construction projects, such as a new Canadian Tire outlet, revamping of Port Place Shopping Centre and commercial development along Bowen Road. In residential units two purpose­built rental housing projects on Terminal

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Avenue and behind Country Club Centre increased the rental pool and reinvestment potential. And in 2012, 313 permits were issued for single­ dwelling units – a slight decrease from 342 in 2011. “Currently, residential developers are applying for zoning permits and prepping subdivisions for building in anticipation of the upswing,” said Tucker. He added that Nanaimo has a strong land use plan with room to grow. With the focus on higher density building and development in the south end and along urban thoroughfares, Nanaimo will continue to see above average growth. ‹‹‹


Things are heating up at

Cedar Road Bio Energy lOCal COmpaNy turns waste into energy with innovative process

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he Regional District of Nanaimo has championed waste stream reprocessing and is a leader not only in B.C. but also in North America. The evidence is in that large, round grey ball at the regional landfill. It holds excess bio waste gas. The storage tank is the first of its kind in North America, and is an innovative new step in the reuse of methane gas for power generation. Built by Paul Liddy, president and owner of Suncurrent Industries, it is setting the stage for change in the sustainable management of waste. “It optimizes the utilization from waste to energy,” Liddy said. Methane gas, a natural by­product of waste breakdown, is 21­25 per cent more damaging to the ozone layer than carbon dioxide. All landfills in British Columbia must have a process for destructing this gas in place by 2016. The regional district came in ahead of the game, requesting proposals

for alternatives well in advance of the deadline. “The RDN has been very supportive,” said Liddy. “The cooperation and partnerships with groups like Community Futures, Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and Innovation Island really moved this project forward.” Phase 1 has been successfully up and running for four years. The electricity it generates, sold to B.C. Hydro for 10 cents a kilowatt, is enough to run 300­ 400 homes at peak output. “Adding the storage tank made the project more financially feasible,” said Liddy. Biogases from the landfill have a sporadic flow, he explained, translating to disruptions in the conversion to electricity. With the double membrane tank, storing additional biofuel creates a consistent flow and keeps two engines running 24/7. “We can now demonstrate a commercially viable system,” he added, which can be modelled by other small and medium­sized landfills around the province. But Liddy, involved in renewable energy since 1981, is passionate about making the system even better. Phase 2 of the project involves recovering waste heat. Blasting out of pipes on top of the engines is a lot of hot air. Liddy wants to recover that energy and use it during winter months. “In damp, cold weather the gas gets saturated with moisture. When it

freezes, the system doesn’t work. We want to use the heat to keep the gas at an even temperature.” Creating efficient and sustainable systems is a priority not only for the financial viability of Liddy’s business, but also for the RDN. Carey McIver, manager of solid waste for the RDN, said it’s a public­private partnership that fits with the mandate of the Zero Waste plan adopted in 2004. “We have the lowest per capita disposal rate in the country,” she added. “Diverting 70 per cent of both business and residential waste. An aggressive landfill gas collection system fits the long­term goal of no waste.” McIver added that once the Cedar Road Bio Energy Center is seeing a profit, RDN would get a 20 per cent royalty on profits Liddy’s company makes. Improving efficiencies and looking at other ways of reusing solid waste means creating a business model that is profitable, environmentally feasible and economically sound. Liddy’s also looking at using excess heat energy to extract oil from waste plastic and using the recovered biofuel for transportation. “Garbage trucks could use this biofuel without needing any alterations to their engines,” he said. With transportation fuel four times more valuable than electricity he stands to make the process environmentally and economically viable. It doesn’t come without risks for Liddy. He owns the business and doesn’t get funding from the RDN, just free access to the landfill gas. But he’s willing to take the chance. “The only way you learn in innovation is by taking risks,” he said. And when it helps beat climate change and manage waste it’s a win­win. ‹‹‹

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SECTOR:

retail

Nanaimo boasts some of the best shopping on the Island

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anaimo’s growing reputation for being one of the best places on the Island to shop comes from its eclectic collection of unique shops and big box stores. Whether you’re looking to outfit your home with designer décor or for the perfect birthday gift, choice is what you can expect at any one of Nanaimo’s unique shopping experiences. From the largest indoor mall on the Island at the north end to the funky, shop-lined streets of downtown, there are plenty of opportunities for indulging in a little retail therapy, but if it’s hidden gems you’re looking for, don’t go far, they’re liberally sprinkled around town. Stroll the Boardwalk on Rutherford Road where quirky garden and gift shops sit next door to an upscale fashion boutique and artisan bakery. Then head to Commercial Street, voted “Greatest Street in Canada” by the Canadian Institute of Planners, and experience cobble stones, heritage buildings and storefronts, café’s,

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bookstores, eateries, specialty footwear, needlework and crafts, designer clothing boutiques and art galleries to satisfy the novice or expert shopper. To find some of the best kept secrets in Nanaimo head up to the Old City Quarter and indulge in sweet, glutenfree cupcakes or healthy raw snacks, and then check out the boutiques, flower shop, hand-made jewelry and West Coast glass art. Take a quick break and reenergize at one of the local coffee or tea shops and then head up to Nanaimo’s premier cheese shop and deli or vintage wear shops. Drawing on the large central and northern Island population, the 807 retail shops around the city that include four malls with box stores and high end men’s and women’s apparel

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shops, 15 movie theatres, sports equipment of every kind and a variety of boutique and specialty shops, makes Nanaimo an important shopping destination. Plenty of room to grow, and lease rates lower than those of larger cities, provides an appealing and attractive draw for prospective shop owners as well. Combine that with easy shipping access via land, air or sea and there is a perfect opportunity for retailers and investors. ‹‹‹


Nanaimo leads economic shift bUSiNESS iNVESTmENT helps Nanaimo reach low unemployment rate “Otherwise, whether it’s marketing or fundraising it doesn’t work.” In 2012, MacIntyre was recognized for his creative and effective marketing and commitment to community involvement and with a top marketing award through the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce for Trades Company of the Year at the Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards, and a Top 20 Under 40 award winner. With 28 staff he’s building a corporate mentality that fosters success. Everyone is involved with business building, he said. MacIntyre’s corporate culture revolves around generating new ways of introducing his product to the public. It’s a creative mindset putting his company on the map and fostering new ways of to get a message to the public.

At Inuktun Services innovation is a concrete entity with a global market. Builders of remote control vehicles, the company attracts employees who can take an idea and turn it in to a working product. Jeff Christopherson, technical sales for Inuktun, said customers bring challenges to his company and technicians and engineers create solutions, from modifying a pipe cleaning ROV to reconfiguring software for rubble reconnaissance. Young creatives are what Inuktun and other manufacturing, scientific and technical firms in Nanaimo are looking for, workers in both soft and hard technology, said Paris Gaudet, excecutive officer for Innovation Island. “It’s an emerging field in Nanaimo.” The city is definitely open for business. ‹‹‹

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he lowest unemployment rate in British Columbia, at 4.2 per cent, well below the provincial average of 7 per cent, is bringing Nanaimo fame, but it’s the city’s innovative, creative thinkers that are bringing it fortune. James MacIntyre of Studio Kitchens & PI Granite is an example of this kind of forward thinking. The just­turned­40 chartered accountant took over the granite and kitchen design business in late 2011 and revamped its marketing and service program. “I look at what no one else is doing,” MacIntyre said. “And then do it.” That means visible branding, community involvement and most importantly having fun. “All the people involved must be enjoying themselves,” he said.

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Left: Gerard St. Jean displays some of the products his company offers. Above: Line workers prepare fish for further processing.

Home grown St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse a made-in-Nanaimo success story

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n blue coveralls and a baseball cap Gerard St. Jean looks more like a line worker than owner of the second-largest cannery in southern B.C. Unassuming and humble, his hands-on approach has taken the family-owned company in to a major global manufacturer of fine seafood products. The company, started by Gerard’s father, Armand, in the kitchen of their Nanaimo home employs 100 workers and buys most of its product from local fishermen and mushroom pickers. Their recipe for success is as distinct and flavourful as the oysters and soup Armand first started selling to local Nanaimo bars and grocery stores in 1960. And it’s a business model that’s weathered the ups and downs of the fishing industry and changing global palates. The key is not only St. Jean’s work ethic, but also his attention to detail, flexibility and willingness to diversify.

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He’s supplying a niche market hungry for seafood, but he’s also catering to the growing demand for products sustainably harvested. “We’re positioned really well in Nanaimo,” he said. “Both Victoria and Vancouver are less than a couple of hours away. And being right on the water we have easy access to the freshest products caught in our local waters or picked from the forests on the Island.” In a 823 square-metre facility, the company manufactures signature, hand-packed tuna and salmon, both smoked and plain, pate, clams, oysters, chowder, sauces, gift baskets and wild mushrooms. The methods not only preserve flavour with little to no salt, but it also preserves heart healthy oils. Most of St. Jean’s business is in North America, with stores selling his product across the Island and Internet sales reaching as far away as Australia. With the recent acquisition of Raincoast Trading Co., St. Jean’s added access to a

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larger customer base in grocery chains and health food stores. It also caters to an Asian market with its specialty canned mushrooms. But it’s the processing of product caught by sports fishermen that is its mainstay. The avid anglers come from around the globe to enjoy some of the best fishing in the world and after a successful trip want to take their catch home. St. Jean’s makes that possible, processing the fish as plain or smoked, canned or shrink wrapped, each tin hand-packed to lock in healthy oils and flavour. Doing business in Nanaimo has its perks, and for St. Jean it’s the lower costs of running a manufacturing business. For employees it’s the short commute and working environment. “Whether they take the bus or drive, they get to work in about 10 minutes,” he said, smiling. Keeping staff happy is a priority for St. Jean. It shows. He has employees with more than 25 years in the company, with no plans for leaving. He explains that when you have great staff you do everything you can to keep them. “It’s all about balance,” he said. “When you have good people it’s worth working at keeping them. We’re well positioned here and with all of us working together we’ve created a manufacturing business that works.” ‹‹‹


Hotel adds international flair aTTaCHEd TO Vancouver Island Conference Centre, hotel expected to bring in thousands of international visitors

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early a decade after completion of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, a 20­storey hotel is set to break ground next year. The 0.17­hectare lot on Gordon Street has been reserved for a conference centre hotel, which will make it easier for the centre to book larger conferences with more hotel rooms within walking distance of the centre. SSS Manhao – the B.C. affiliate of a major Chinese tourism company – is finalizing purchase of the site with the City of Nanaimo for the hotel. The 240­ room tower would have a swimming pool, shops, restaurants and connecting bridges to Piper Park and Nanaimo’s

conference centre. The build, pegged at $50 million, is anticipated to provide rooms for delegates and attract close to 70,000 Chinese visitors to the Harbour City each year. Tourism operators and Nanaimo’s mayor say the deal is a good one, with operators creating demand that could spill out into other hotels. Businesses are also expected to benefit from the new visitors and have already started considering new products and workshops in Mandarin. “Things may change, but I am optimistic we have a winner this time and I am hopeful to see it materialize and finish on budget and on time,” said Mayor John Ruttan. “It’s like thinking of a glass as half full or half empty – I am

not aware of anything that would stop it from being built and staff continue to have regular and very encouraging discussions with the builder.” The SSS Manhao is considered to be the most innovative pitch to create the conference centre's hotel component. Sasha Angus, CEO of Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, helped make the deal and said the tourism operator is bringing much of its own clientele, while promoting Nanaimo as a tourism destination in China. Hoteliers had been concerned about a new competitor in an already saturated market, but “this is a different scenario,” he said. It will be a “tremendous asset for the community as well as the conference centre but [the operator] also brings fairly strong demand with them given their core business as a tourism operator,” he said. ‹‹‹

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The little mill that could NaNaimO fOREST Products beats the odds to become a successful employee-owned business

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anufacturing high­quality fibre for the pulp and paper industry is what Harmac Pacific has been doing for more than 30 years. The mill is a fixture in Nanaimo and a major economic driver; its employees are happy working under the current ownership and eager to keep profits growing. It helps that the workers are also shareholders, participating in a real­life feel good story directors would like to turn in to a movie. When previous owners, Oregon­ based Pope and Talbot announced bankruptcy in 2008, workers and management at the mill refused to accept the loss of their jobs or the shut down of such an integral part of the community. Some of the employees had clocked in fresh out of high school and weren’t ready to retire or give up a lucrative job. So, instead of taking their pink slips and looking elsewhere for work, in a move that had the pulp industry buzzing, they secured backers and purchased the operation for $13.2 million. Now owned by three shareholders – two private investors and the group of employees, who each put in a $25,000 investment – the mill is up and running, producing 350,000

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tonnes of Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft annually. Two hundred employees, with a vested interest in maintaining and running the mill, restructured the management model, streamlined operations and defied the skeptics. Five years later, the mill is reinvesting its profits, paying dividends to its employees and adding a new stream of income. “We’ve created a business model that allows employees more independence,” said Paul Sadler, general manager and chief executive officer. “There’s less oversight and management and a more enjoyable work atmosphere.” It’s a success story that highlights the fighting spirit of the city. It doesn’t give up. Even during the worst economic crisis of 2008 the mill churned out 700­800 tonnes of pulp per day. Sadler said the steamlining included cutting back to two rather than three production lines, rolling out the same amount of fiber but with increased efficiency and lower costs. The company is doing well, he said, and the fibre produced at the mill is in high demand, exported around the world to

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places like, Asia, Europe, and North and Latin America, where it’s turned in to high quality paper. And in 2011 investor/workers got their first dividend check averaging approximately $2,000. But in business and manufacturing there are always ways to improve and increase the bottom line, and when you own the company you’re motivated. The latest project, funded by Natural Resources Canada’s Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program and B.C. Hydro’s Smart Partners Industrial Program, will see the plant generating clean power and selling it to B.C. Hydro. It’s a 15­year purchase agreement that will have the mill producing and selling 190 gigawatt


hours of electricity to Hydro, enough to power 17,000 homes. Sadler explained that the new 25 megawatt turbo­generation unit uses wood biomass to generate steam that will power the generator. He added that with the fuel source already at the mill, using surplus biomass to make electricity creates an even more efficient system and another stream of revenue. Though the pulp market has been volatile, Harmac Pacific and Nanaimo Forest Products, continue to stand as strong examples of hard work and creative thinking. More than $35 million in wages, approximately 1,500 indirect jobs and high taxes paid for the heavy industry facility, stay in Nanaimo. With an inclusive policy of decision­ making and ongoing openness to innovation and creative solutions, the mill stands to continue running smoothly, not only as a noticeable working landmark but also as an important and sustainable manufacturer of one of our most precious natural resources. ‹‹‹

motivated, diverse and skilled workforce in Nanaimo and region With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, Nanaimo’s workforce is motivated, diverse and skilled. With a fully accredited university granting degrees, diplomas and offering a variety of trades training, the region is situated to satisfy the changing and growing needs of the job market. Although sales and service show the largest percentage of Nanaimo’s employment base, the highest number of workers employed by a single entity are with Nanaimo school district at 2,135 employees, followed by Nanaimo Regional General Hospital with 1,600 employees, and the university with 1,030 employees. In 2006 approximately 43 per cent of Nanaimo’s labour force had completed advanced training beyond Grade 12, which was higher than the national rate of 41 per cent.

Trends show an expanding workforce with the number of women in the labour force increasing. The majority of newcomers in Nanaimo range between the ages of 40-59 and although this may have a downward effect on participation in employment rates, it is offset by a higher level of education in people coming to Nanaimo. Over the next four years projections show a marked shift in age distribution that will impact the workforce. The total number of people aged 25-44 will almost catch those between the ages of 45-64, and individuals 65-plus living in the Nanaimo area will jump from 12.6 per cent in 2006 to 20.5 per cent in 2016. Re-training programs for older adults, an increased retirement age, expanding programs at the university, grants and scholarships offered to new students and an influx of well-educated newcomers combined will continue to have a positive effect on the labour market.

Aerials Corporate Products Hospitality Industrial Interiors Exteriors Event & Editorial Environmental Portraits Business Portraits in Studio

250 729 5444 www.haphotography.com

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BUSINESS IN NANAIMO

27


SECTOR:

FILM

film SHOOTS showcase Nanaimo

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hether you’re watching a man in tights, a rocket as big as a house, a scaly monster from another part of the world or you’re just out for blood, make sure to check out the whole picture, because in the background, and in the groups of extras, you might just recognize a familiar landmark, park, street or person from Nanaimo. From stunning scenery, to 100­year­ old farmhouses, dramatic rock formations to large ships, aboriginal structures and artifacts, to fog­encased fishing boats, Nanaimo offers diverse locations and environments loaded with atmosphere for television, movies or commercials. In 2011 casting calls for extras went out in Nanaimo for Superman, one of the most anticipated remakes of the century. Through the magic of film and editing, in 2014 Godzilla will be ripping apart a street in downtown Nanaimo. But it was the arrival of the Twilight crew that had Nanaimo really buzzing. Not only was local actor Cameron Bright cast in as brother to Dakota Fanning’s character, but also featured scenes filmed at Flat Rocks on Nanaimo River. The movie, released in 2010,

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BUSINESS IN NANAIMO

was a blockbuster success and starred Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison. Talent seems to flow with our abundant water. Justin Chatwin, who played son to Tom Cruise’s character in War of the Worlds, hales from Nanaimo as do Jodelle Ferland of horror movie, Silent Hill, Adrian Hough, from Underworld Evolution, The Last Stand and, with a hint of irony, Fog. B.C. is the fourth­largest centre for film and television production in North America and with Nanaimo a short sail or flight away from Vancouver, it offers film crews a less expensive and highly photographic option. Nanaimo Economic Development and InFilm are an active part of the film community, providing a database of working and skilled cast and crew as well as suitable featured locations. The goal is to act as a liaison between the community and production crew ensuring a trouble­free filming experience. As a gateway to the central and northern island region Nanaimo offers a dynamic environment for filming with the talent and experience for reel success. ‹‹‹

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productions filmed in Nanaimo area 2005-13* Superman: Man of Steel (Feature)

$525,000

Ford Car (Commercial)

$200,000

Twilight: Eclipse (Feature)

$135,000

Wildest Islands (TV)

$120,000

Scourge (Feature)

$100,000

Crash Test Mommy (TV)

$50,000

Suzuki (Commercial)

$47,000

Northern Trust (Commercial)

$25,000

Google Maps (Commercial)

$18,000

Hyundai (Commercial)

$14,200

Sky’s the Limit (TV)

$10,000

It Happened This Way (TV)

$10,000

Ron James Show (TV)

$5,000

Designing Spaces (TV)

$2,000

Weekend Makeover (TV)

$2,000

Parental Alienation (Corporate video)

$1,000

We Are All Family (Corporate video)

$1,000

TOTAL:

$1,265,200 * direct spending


Abundant land, a skilled and diversified workforce, excellent infrastructure, key transportation connections and commercial lease rates up to 60% lower than Vancouver or Victoria‌ just a few of the competitive advantages which make Nanaimo the place of Infinite Possibilities.

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SECTOR:

real estate Affordability driving real estate market in Nanaimo and region

S

ublime scenery may be the biggest draw for newcomers to Nanaimo, but pair it with affordability and you have a match made in heaven. Whether a first-time buyer or seasoned investor Nanaimo has the inventory to appeal to all tastes and pocket books, from high end waterfront property to comfortable family homes. “We’ve got your average threebedroom, one-bathroom home with a full basement in an established neighbourhood, as well as your highend executive home with 6,000 square feet, a bathroom for each bedroom and walk-on waterfront,” said Kathy Koch, director at Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. Growth in both real estate sales and building has been steady. And though the market is cyclical, the appeal of owning a reasonably priced home at a low-interest rate has more young families and professionals looking at owning their own piece of paradise. Starting out or pairing down, Koch said there are townhomes of every variety, attractively priced and when purchased for investment

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BUSINESS IN NANAIMO

potential offer positive cash flow and minimal worry. She added that many of the younger buyers of these units are looking at the purchase with a discerning eye to high-end décor: stainless appliances, granite countertops and dark wood cabinets. “When your mortgage rate is less than it would cost to rent it makes sense to buy.”
 said Koch. It’s not just first time buyers snapping up the good buys. Those transitioning to larger homes or to elegant retirement living are also finding bargains, many in upscale locations at both the south and north end. Newer subdivisions, developed with an eye to sustainability, are strong draws but condos are also appealing for low maintenance and easy access. As a business owner Nanaimo offers plenty of great commercial deals. Whether you are interested in locating downtown or in the regional district, there is space to grow without breaking the bank. In 2012 the average price of a singlefamily residential unit was $353,408 down from 2011’s $362,680. This year is seeing an upswing and in July the

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average price sat at $362,918. In 2012 the majority of houses sold were in the $250,000 - $400,000 range followed by houses ranging between $450,000 – $600,000. Nanaimo saw the largest number of single-family sales in the central and northern Island region with the average number of days to sell a home dropping by three per cent this year over last. Sales of lots increased over last year by 17 per cent, which could be due in part to developers preparing in advance for an upswing in the market. Condo sales and prices have both dropped over last year from an average of $273,433 to $271,022. ‹‹‹


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2014 Business in Nanaimo