I’ve concluded that Vancouver Island’s foremost industries are government, forestry, fishing, and marijuana cultivation, not necessarily in that order. The first, government, exists mainly in the Provincial capital Victoria, as evidenced by the city’s 3.3% unemployment rate (versus 6.3% nationally). Forestry and fishing are in recession, if not depression. The marijuana business, while apparently thriving, carries certain risks. And the sheer number of interesting jobs in Nanaimo--population 80,000--is low compared to a metro area like the Twin Cities, at least during non-meltdown times.
Nevertheless, we’ve made a bit of progress. I've encouraged Laurie to post what she’s learned and accomplished, but as for me:
- Through a contact of Laurie’s, I met last week with a guy from the Business Development Bank of Canada (www.bdc.ca). The Bank offers to small and medium-sized businesses financing and consulting services. The guy with whom I met--a very interesting Australian who originally came to Vancouver Island to train for an Olympic rowing team--manages all of the Bank’s Vancouver Island business consultants. We discussed the prospects for me qualifying for the Bank’s independent consultant “roster.” He didn’t kick me out the door, so I consider our initial chat a success.
- Also through contacts made by Laurie, I met yesterday with a friendly and helpful individual who manages a program called Business Works in Nanaimo (www.businessworksse.com). This program aids unemployed people interested in starting a business. It first puts them through a 10-day Business Plan Boot Camp, then signs up survivors with a Business Coach--the role I’m most interested in--who helps clients put together a business plan and guides them through the start-up process. Nothing is open at the moment, but new or expanding programs could change that imminently. Again I wasn’t kicked out the door.
- Friday I’m scheduled to meet with the Executive Director of a nonprofit called Community Futures (www.cfnanaimo.org). This organization provides financing, technical support, and counseling to business.
- I’m meeting in January with the Executive Director of the Nanaimo & Area Land Trust (www.nalt.bc.ca), a nonprofit with the mission “to promote and protect the natural values of land in the Nanaimo area.” NALT’s looking for someone to do a special project: develop a database application to manage its membership and donation information. I did a lot of database application development work at Van Hoven Co. in the mid-1990s so, with a little refreshing, I think I could do a good job on what sounds initially like a fairly simple project. Whether my reward would be more than psychological remains unanswered.