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Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada
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2010 Sustainability - Stephen Owen
Honorable Stephen Owen addressed a full house in the Crystal Pavilion
at the Pan Pacific January 20th, 2005.
It was mostly straightforward socioeconomic information regarding 2010
Winter Olympics and sustainability, but he did cover a few of topics that
were thought provoking.
Sustainability is a contentious issue and it will be interesting to see
how it plays out in the years to come.
2010 is poised to be the first official sustainable Olympics -- whatever
that really means. The record for responsible environmental management,
which is a cornerstone for sustainability, is scandalous. Environmental
issues are the first on the chopping block whenever it is a question of
sustainable land use or of clear-cutting a forest for a temporary parking
lot. The money goes to Olympic operations and development every time.
Sustainability and the environment take a back seat to sporting event
logistics, operations and development. The show must go on.
It's extremely difficult to get reliable numbers when it comes to environmental
issues and the Olympics, but we do know that in Salt Lake City the budget
was hacked at the eleventh hour from 5.5 billion promised during the bid,
to about 1.5 billion. Salt Lake City was an environmental disaster. Olympian
skier and Ecologist Hilary Lynde caused a few jaws to drop last year at
an all day seminar hosted by Vancouver law firm Singelton Urquhart. You
can read about it here.
Minister Owen ran down a long list of topics, and in true political fashion
endeavored to touch on everything, but not go into details about anything.
It was a relatively superficial rendering.
Somehow, in the provincial plan, sustainability, the environment and competitive
advantage for B.C. are sheltered under one umbrella. When I hear the words
environment and competitive advantage uttered in the same breathe I giggle
like a school girl. No kidding. I can hardly type these words in the same
For all you engineers, ecologists and economists who feel compelled to
enlighten me please feel free, but sign your name because I'm going to
hold you to it along with Stephen Owen. If you think environmental responsibility
will foster competitive advantage then sustainability is destined for
failure. It's an investment in the future, not a way to generate revenue
over a short or mid term. Sustainability can't be governed by competitive
advantage, but politicians keep trying to do so. I suppose if they convince
businesses they can profit from it they will work harder towards meeting
goals, but it's a hollow promise.
Minister Owen hit a bullseye though when when he reiterated one of my
favorite recommendations to companies interested in leveraging Olympic
momentum, and that is to develop a stronger technological presence. If
B.C. wants to grow economically we don't need more mechanical or natural
resource industries, we need technology. Historically, in Olympic regions
technology is the second largest growth sector behind sports. With technology
the investment is weighted towards human resources and not real estate
or infrastructure. It's also clean, efficient and easily scalable, plus
it interconnects with global networks.
Owen talked about developing fuel cell, tidal power and heat pump technologies.
He backed his ideas up by explaining that social inclusiveness would give
us a good base for employment and that the stability it would provide
would support strong economic growth.
He told a story that was driven home as I motored up Burrard after his
presentation. Owen told us of the Yellow Cab company using hybrid vehicles,
and that drivers of the Toyota Prius cabs will educate their passengers
about the efficiency of these alternative fueled vehicles. Sure enough,
as I turned left at the foot of Burrard to head south one of the Yellow
Cabs cruised right alongside me with the driver talking a mile a minute
over his right shoulder to his passenger.
In that brief moment my skepticism abated and I started thinking in more
detail about the Minister's views regarding multiculturalism and how we
must celebrate it, and expand the gateway to Asia. Considering that Beijing
is hosting the Summer Games in 2008 we have even more cause to open up
the networks and stimulate communication. It's a pipeline between our
two cultures that will be good for everyone.
We invested over three 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
businesses face. Leverage
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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