The St. John’s Board of Trade wants you to be the boom. The board launched a campaign — Be the Boom — Friday morning designed to celebrate the booming private sector in St. John’s.
“We’ve been talking about the boom for a long time at the St. John’s Board of Trade,” said Kim Keating, the first vice-chairwoman with the board, at a business mixer in Nite Cap’s lounge at Mile One Centre.
“We’ve been witnessing our members’ growth, the growing optimism and confidence, the expansions and the hiring of workers locally and from around the world.”
The campaign aims to highlight and share success stories from businesses large and small, via a new website, betheboom.ca.
Keating pointed to Statoil’s recent discovery of at least 300 million barrels of oil at Bay du Nord and the arrival of Quebec-based airline Pascan to the St. John’s airport as examples of the booming economy.
“It’s been more than 30 years since we’ve had such a significant offshore discovery in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s amazing,” she said.
“We think it’s time to celebrate those successes. We think these businesses, the businesses that create jobs, wealth, and provide us with service day to day, they should and are well-deserved to be celebrated.”
The nearly 17,000 businesses in the province contributed $486 million in corporate taxes to the provincial treasury in 2012, said Keating.
“Those of us who work for these companies are part of the boom as well,” she said. “We purchase the goods and services they provide. We help our companies grow with our hard work and innovation. We’ve all seen an improved quality of life.”
St. John’s IceCaps general manager Glenn Stanford said the region’s economic strength is showing up in the season-ticket base for the team, which accounts for about 90 per cent of all available seats, and the team marking its 85th consecutive sellout Friday, the second-longest in American Hockey League history and closing in on the current record of 90.
Stanford said there’s been a marked change in the city since his tenure with the St. John’s Maple Leafs.
“What was really interesting for me, being away since 2005 and coming back two years ago, is actually seeing the boom in this city,” he said.
“When I came back in 2011, you could actually feel the excitement in this city. You could feel the energy in this city. … We introduced the St. John’s IceCaps on Friday morning, June 9, in this building, in 2011. The next day, we put our season tickets on our website for those who were interested in becoming season ticket holders. We had 3,500 people the next day signing up for season tickets.”
But with rising revenues also come rising costs — higher housing prices and taxes that squeeze people not personally benefiting in the form of higher wages, such as seniors on fixed incomes.
Asked how St. John’s can help people being left behind, Keating said the boom can help with those issues too.
“We’re seeing improvements in health care. We’re seeing schools being built, improvements in infrastructure — roads and so on. Our unemployment is just slightly higher than five per cent. We’re really seeing the business community step up in terms of corporate responsibility. The majority of businesses now are really giving back to the communities in which they work and operate, which is really having a significant impact on a lot of not-for-profit organizations, and organizations that can benefit from this growth as well.”