Key Industries

Nanaimo has transitioned from a commodity-based economy that traditionally relied on an abundance of natural resources from the ocean and forests towards a service-based “knowledge” economy that relies on the skills, talent and innovation of the local workforce. The area offers a diversified economic base of 6,461 businesses operating within the City of Nanaimo. In 2022 Nanaimo’s largest sectors by number of businesses are Construction (19.7%), Professional Scientific & Technical (12.3%), Retail Trade (12.2%),Other Services except Public Administration (10.4%) and Healthcare/Social Assistance (10.2%). These top five industry sectors account for 65% of all business licenses.

A chart comparing types and numbers of business licenses in Nanaimo for 2022

As with Canadian business composition, the majority of the businesses in Nanaimo are small to medium sized enterprises. The City of Nanaimo had 3,464 businesses with employees in 2020. Approximately 87% (3,028) of these businesses have between 1 and 19 employees; 9% (282) of the businesses have between 20-49 employees; 4% (150) of these businesses have between 50-499 employees and 4 businesses have more than 500 employees. Nanaimo’s largest sectors by employment are: Healthcare and Social Assistance, Retail Trade, Construction, Accommodation & Food Services and Educational Services (2016 Census).

A chart showing the different sizes of businesses in Nanaimo

Last updated: August 8, 2022

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