“World of opportunities” seen for Richmond businesses
02 October 2014
A “world of opportunities” exist for Canadian small and mid-sized businesses in emerging markets of Asia and elsewhere, and being home to an international airport gives Richmond business many advantages in pursuing those opportunities. This positive outlook was delivered Wednesday to over 100 local business executives by Scotiabank Chief Economist Warren Jestin and Vancouver International Airport President and CEO Craig Richmond, the keynote speakers at the City of Richmond’s 3rd annual Business and Partner Appreciation event.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie opened the session by highlighting the City’s commitment to economic development, which has fostered both a strong development market and significant job growth in Richmond. He noted this success led Western Investor magazine to select Richmond as the best city for investment in Western Canada in new annual rankings announced this week. Brodie said Richmond is positioning itself to further take advantage of global opportunities by focusing on its economic strengths such as transportation and distribution.
Jestin said that two-thirds of the world’s economic growth is now coming from emerging markets such as China – a major shift from the 1990s when two-thirds of international economic growth was occurring in developed nations. He said the share of economic growth occurring in emerging markets will continue to grow, creating a “world of opportunities” for both Canadian commodities, but also for local businesses that can provide service or value-added products.
“It used to be that we thought of China as being a place that sold us stuff, but now we’re increasingly looking at it as a place we can sell stuff to,” said Jestin. He added that tourism from Asia is another major growth area for local businesses, with China vaulting from fifth to first in international tourism over the past few years.
YVR’s Richmond told the audience the local airport is already benefitting from the expanding international market with annual passenger counts expected to surpass 19 million by the end of 2014, a new record high.
Richmond said YVR is also actively pursuing a vision to become more of an international hub airport, such as London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airports, by creating new connections between Asia and other emerging markets such as Brazil and Argentina.
“It would put us on the verge of unprecedented growth. We could see the greatest surge of growth in air travel since commercial air travel began,” said Richmond, adding that such growth could see direct jobs at YVR increase from 24,000 now to 30,000.
Richmond also focused on the strong potential for growth from Asian markets, noting that Boeing is expecting to sell as many as 6,000 new aircraft to China alone, as that economy continues to enjoy sustained, high rates of economic growth. YVR already offers shorter flying times to most Asian destinations from any major North American airport. With Boeing’s Dreamliner and other longer-range aircraft coming on stream, Richmond said non-stop flights to all destinations in China and southeast Asia from YVR are now a possibility.
Richmond also moderated a panel discussion featuring executives from Richmond’s MDA, Albion Fisheries and Canada Post – businesses which all rely heavily on YVR in their daily operations. The discussion focused on the advantages of access to global markets and supply chains as a result of being located in an international airport city.
Mike Shearon, General Manager of Canada Post’s new Pacific Processing Plant, said Asia is driving growth in parcel and package delivery, with Canada Post seeing 30 per cent growth annually in that area. Guy Dean, Vice President of Import/Export with Albion Fisheries, which relies on YVR to both import and export its seafood products, said his firm has seen a 20 per cent growth in staff since moving its operations to Richmond 18 months ago. MDA vice president Nigel Evans noted his company does business all over the world and YVR’s proximity makes staff travel more convenient. He also welcomed YVR’s push to open up travel to South American and other markets that currently lack direct flights from Richmond.
The City’s annual Business and Partner Appreciation event provides an opportunity to strengthen ties among stakeholders with a joint interest in fostering economic development in Richmond. It is also an opportunity to recognize the corporate partners who’ve helped directly support City programs and events.
“Economic development continues to be high on the priority list for Richmond’s City Council,” Mayor Brodie told the audience. “We are committed, more than ever, to continue working with our companies and partners to advance Richmond’s success.”