Nanaimo Economic Development Update

By Sasha Angus

Our region has been seeing some encouraging economic numbers being published in the last few weeks.

After dropping each of the last few months, the region’s unemployment rate hit a five-year low, coming in at 3.5 per cent – a figure that earned Nanaimo the distinction of having the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Coupled with an even larger number of people in the community in the workforce, known in the business as our “participation rate,” we are seeing signs for cautious optimism.

While the region’s unemployment figures are available on a monthly basis, many other indicators take a much longer time to put together and are often publicly available only months after the fact.

In a world that is now used to up-to-the-second information, like real time stock market quotes and news on demand, this can be a little frustrating.

Such economic information may not be real time, but it can be useful in confirming a trend that is underway and can act to boost local confidence by confirming what we are hearing and seeing in our own day-to-day lives.

What would be even better is if we could actually get a feel for what might be in the making for the year to come.

Thankfully, starting next week, that is exactly what Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation will be striving to do with the help of our community partners.

Together we will be undertaking Nanaimo’s first business conditions survey, which will take the pulse of the region’s business community.

The survey is being sent out this year to more than 6,500 business licence renewals and will get local companies’ impressions on the year that was (2012) and will ask a number of questions about the year to come.

How did this year finish versus last year? What are their hiring intentions for the year to come? What business investments are they likely to make in 2013?

Their confidential responses to these and other important questions will help give us key insights into local companies’ outlooks and intentions and, by extension, our region’s business environment for the year to come.

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