Business News Strategies and Opportunities in Olympics Sport Regions

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Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada

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Kerry Jothen - HR GURU

Kerry Jothen

Meet Kerry Jothen. He is a well spoken labour advocate and possibly one of the most important harbingers in the first push to 2010.

During his presentation at a recent breakfast meeting of Vancouver's construction elite, Kerry was the most vocal regarding the Olympics' human resource skilled trades shortage. A question small and mid size businesses in the GVRD should be asking is whether the construction industry considers the skilled trades shortage as serious a problem as Kerry Jothen does.

Jothen, President & CEO of Human Capital Strategies and one of the panelists at the April 2004 Board of Trade breakfast meeting, warned construction industry leaders gathered in the Coast Plaza Hotel's packed-to-the-rafters conference room, that one of the greatest obstacles to the success of the Games could be a lack of skilled tradespeople. (Someone has to physically build all those Olympic roads and facilities.) No one on the panel disagreed, in fact almost all had something to say about it in their presentations. Jothen just said it best.

Jothen is a qualified, experienced and respected training, education and human resources advisor, and when he speaks, people listen. His colleagues on the Board of Trade Panel were construction industry luminaries David Podmore, Keith Sashaw and Dave Park, all influential Vancouver businessmen.

If the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) wants to make the Olympics a success that includes small and medium size businesses, they have to create a plan and execute it in a way that gives everyone an opportunity to get involved. The Olympics obviously holds great opportunity for big business, but if the ramp up over the next year or so is not managed properly smaller businesses may not have enough time to get on board to leverage the momentum. Small businesses have small budgets. If they are given enough time, through smart planning they can compensate for lack of funds by implementing strategies that weave their presence at both a community and global level into the fabric of the Olympic momentum. If they don't have time to plan they miss opportunities and find it impossible to play catch-up.

There is no doubt the skilled trades shortage is real, and that it will be extremely difficult to attract workers from other provinces. One solution put forth by panelists was to train more workers. However, extensive training is futile because there isn't enough time to build a large enough workforce in time to build Olympic facilities, at least from a small business perspective. It's important to know that VANOC CEO John Furlong is making it clear to the construction industry that he wants the facilities in operation a couple of years before the Games. (More on that later.) In regards to the skills shortage, we can certainly train some types of tradespeople, but for the most part, Vancouver will have no choice but to import skilled workers from other countries. If you want to know why we don't have enough people in Canada to fill the skilled trade ranks, Kerry Jothen's website, Human Capital Strategies may be able to shed more light on it for you.

Why is the skilled trade shortage even a
concern to small and mid size business?

It's simple. Small and midsize businesses need more time to get up to speed. We need to know how we fit into the system. If the target keeps changing we can't react fast enough to hit it. Big business may not be able to move fast, but they can throw huge amounts of money at a variety of options, and pick the strategy du'jour, a strategy through which no fault of our own would effectively knock small business out of the running.

Big business can afford to zig zag to the finish line. Small business needs to know before they start the race where the finish line is. We need to know from VANOC that they have a long term plan in place and that they will stay the course and deliver as promised. Salt Lake City fumbled in this respect and made it incredibly difficult for small and midsize businesses to compete. Sydney 2000 on the other hand did an incredible job supporting regional business.

Vancouver is a region with a solid history of independent business. We still aggressively resist BIG BOX companies like Walmart and Home Depot, but keep in mind that in many respects the Olympics is also a BIG BOX machine. Let's preserve our unique heritage and not have it fall away in the shadow of the Olympics.

*Ed. Note: We invested two years and a six-figure budget researching Olympic organization relationships with sponsors, contractors, suppliers, partners, etc. The results surprised us too -- mouseover below

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Learn more about the challenges small and midsize
businesses face. Leverage Olympic Momentum

Olympic organizations are
BIG BUSINESS MACHINES that attract corporations like Kodak, CocaCola, McDonald's, Wal*Mart, etc. Consequently, VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee) will be stretched thin trying to also develop ways to assist small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum. Surprisingly, many people don't realize the event can also be lucrative for smaller businesses including agriculture, manufacturers, entertainment, technology, retail & obviously tourism, even when they don't have products or services that appeal to Olympic fans or serve a direct Olympic need.

The information we share here is invaluable in helping small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum.

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