Business News Strategies and Opportunities in Olympics Sport Regions

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

OlyBLOG is for businesses across Canada, especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also hope companies in Alberta and United States (i.e. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California) will find OlyBLOG interesting and informative.


Originally published May 1, 2004

U.S. Connection - Robert Jones

FlagsThe VRCA and the U.S. Commercial Service recently joined forces to showcase BC Construction Opportunities.

The setting was incredible for our American neighbors to showcase their wares. Without doubt the Westin Bayshore Resort and Marina is the place to host an event when you want to impress out-of-towners. The sun shone brightly across Coal Harbour, a brisk Pacific Ocean breeze snapped the flags and the city looked vital and alive.

Unfortunately, as our host pointed out at the end of the day, we were stuck in a windowless banquet room from 8:30am to 2:30pm. The good news though was that a wide range of local and international presenters filled us in on enough Vancouver region construction projects to keep everyone excited for the next decade.

We heard from Olympic leaders, manufacturers, suppliers and the government. The mood was upbeat and the investment numbers projected for the next ten years were in the billions. Keith Sashaw, President of the VRCA and co-host of the seminar opened the seminar holding high above his head the morning's Vancouver Sun as he recited the front page headlines, "Builders Hit Feverish Pitch with $2.5 Billion in Permits". It kicked off the day-long seminar on a positive note and the tone stayed upbeat throughout the entire day.

BC Construction is Booming!

We heard a number of interesting presentations from American companies, some from as far away as Minnesota. Sue Meekhof, VP Sales from Ground Heaters made it clear that when construction companies are racing the Olympic clock, keeping schedules on track by either thawing the ground to lay footings, or wrapping concrete forms in her product is an efficient way to stay on track and budget.

One of the most architecturally interesting SMBs (small and mid size businesses), ACS Construction Inc. from Kansas gave us a quick rundown on their log building products. Their designs and techniques have serious commercial and residential appeal, especially for those looking to create a high end structure at a reasonable price. They're a small American company so committed to their product and growth of their company that they invested in BC forests and work closely with the Canadian aboriginal workforce. An American SMB with a footprint in Canada is rare. What makes them even more interesting is that they're familiar with the Utah Olympic tendering process and recognize how great the opportunity will be in BC. Look for ACS to gain strong ground here in the near future.

We also heard from a number of Canadian subsidiaries who focused their presentations more on the overall construction climate in BC. It was in contrast to the Americans who more aggressively worked the Olympic factor into their presentations. Interesting difference.

Companies from outside the region (Toronto especially) seem to be more excited about the Olympics than we are in the GVRD. I spoke to a number of Americans in the room and it became apparent they were very knowledgeable about the impact the Olympics had on companies who moved quickly a few years ago in Utah. They also demonstrated a healthy respect for the complexity and spoke of numerous challenges, plus they seem undaunted in their quest to leverage Olympic momentum in Canada.

An influential person to watch as we move closer to 2010 will be Robert Jones from the United States Commercial Service. He co-hosted the event with Keith Sashaw. The U.S. Commercial Service office facilitates business development between American and Canadian companies. They help Canadian firms locate U.S. providers of goods and services and also become representatives or distributors of U.S. firms.

On the local front I was most interested to hear about the new convention center. Reports are floating around that it might be scaled back due to increased construction costs. If this is the case it would be truly tragic considering that one of the most important reasons for bringing the Olympics to BC is to encourage trade and open international doors to regional companies. We need a modern convention centre to make the Olympics worthwhile for SMBs. This will be the most important tool we have to connect with the rest of the world. From a small and mid size business point of view and over the long term everything else pales in comparison, including sports legacies and gold medals.

He might have slipped it into his presentation, but I didn't hear David Walker, Project Manager for the Vancouver Center Expansion Project mention the possibility of scaling back the size of the Convention Centre. Instead I read about it in the Vancouver Sun the following day. Something Walker did share though was that he had a political directive to use BC forest products as much as possible in structural development as well as aesthetic finishing.

Hats off to Keith Sashaw and his team of organizers and Robert Jones for pulling off an event that brings Canada and United States closer together. Everything worked well, from the location to the food and even the audio/video portion. It's always a challenge to make sure everyone's Power Point presentations work, especially considering that each presenter shows up with a different laptop. There were a few minor glitches throughout the day, but all in all a good outcome. We saw and heard what we had to see and hear.

Over the last month we did an informal survey at Area46 Media Communications of 37 local architects and 72 construction companies. If you're interested in what they had to say about their involvement regarding the 2010 Olympics email me and I'll tell you how to get an overview of it. You might be surprised.

Here's a list of companies and associations at the seminar;

Ingersoll Rand
Marubeni American / Avenue Machinery
Vancouver Port Authority
ACS Construction Inc.
New Holland North America
Vancouver International Airport Expansion
Bay Shore Systems Inc.
Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project
Ground Heaters Inc.
Translink Transportation Projects

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels formed a steering committee to take economic advantage of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

The mayor envisions Seattle serving as a secondary access point for arriving athletes and tourists, and the region hopes to induce visitors to spend part of their trip in the Puget Sound region.

“The time is right to begin developing a strategy for taking advantage of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver,” said Nickels.


BDA Engineers in Scottsdale Arizona have been named the structural engineering consultant for the Whistler Nordic Center. Sandwell Engineering is the Vancouver lead design team.

BDA owner and principal engineer Greg Brickey said they were selected to consult on the 2010 project because of their experience working the Utah Winter Sports Park in Park City for the 2002 Olympics. They designed two ski jumps, the start houses for the bobsled and luge runs, the bobsled and luge take-out facility and spectator seating for ten thousand people.

Proof positive there is opportunity for everyone in 2010!

Sandwell Engineering is the Vancouver based lead engineering team awarded the contract to build three stadiums with a projected capacity of 12,000 per stadium, 50 to 100km of trails, K90 & K120 ski jumps, and biathlon facilities.

*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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