Gregor's Twitternomics

Post by Mike Klassen in


130 characters @ 2am – the Mayor describes his successful day

If you needed a contrasting story on the 2010 Games it's this. On Monday a group of Metro Vancouver mayors make a funding announcement that they're going to spend $1.5 million wining and dining business execs as an economic development strategy. Today, the Vancouver Police Department announce their new secret sonic crowd control device for any anticipated Olympics disturbances.

So, while in one ear Vancouver is whispering sweet nothings while serving prestige Jackson-Triggs wines and wild salmon, the other ear is experiencing permanent hearing loss.

Those of you who employ Twitter in a dialogue about your life and work know that the 140 character limitation can be tricky for getting a point across. Gregor Robertson, Vancouver's farmboy mayor, is not exactly known for his wordsmithing skills. But one has to give him props for turning a one-page press release into a Tweet:

launched 2010 business program for metro region. targeted push to land great companies+jobs as economic legacy. 9 muni's on board.

No wonder this was posted at 2am. Gregor must have been working on it for hours. He would ace the exams for this course.

A special shout out to The Vancouverite, who has been having fun with Gregor's Tweets in recent weeks. As T.V. points out, as Metro Vancouver plans to party it up with the suits, one of the largest employers in the region (and my former place of work), Electronic Arts, is dumping 17% of its workforce – about 1500 employees – the majority at their Burnaby studio.

As we explained on Friday, Metro Vancouver Commerce was the brainchild of the last Vancouver council. The City of Richmond announced their intentions to court businesses through MVC back in August, so the only "news" from yesterday's announcement was that MVC will spend over a million bucks on Olympic parties (half of which is provided by the Feds). Here's how Richmond describes the MVC strategy:

The MVC 2010 Program will provide a world-class all-inclusive VIP hosting experience to top business executives and investor prospects from abroad. The City of Richmond is an active member of the MVC, and as such is able to offer the associated benefits of this program to the local business community looking to attract foreign investment and export opportunities.

The Vancouver Economic Development Commission (VEDC), partners in promoting the MVC plan, seem to value social events as the key to building economic ties. We were told the city council-funded advisory body hosted a social gathering at Bonita's Restaurant in Gastown six weeks ago. Gregor, who was there until past 1am, apparently closed the place. He describes the bash, held for Pixar Studios (who are not laying off at this time) once again in his Twitter post:

had welcome party for pixar team. their move here is a stellar boost for our creative industry and biz community

Will Metro Vancouver's "party strategy" assure its economic future? Organizers were a little vague on the expected outcomes of the MVC initiative:

The mayors could not say which firms are on the guest list... Organizers say the invitees are being carefully screened to ensure they're seriously considering investing in the region and not just taking advantage of an Olympic junket.

"We've got to make sure they have a direct connection to a B.C. business, a B.C. trade organization or a direct link to investment that's now taking place in B.C.,'' said Robertson... Vancouver's mayor said there's no set goal for the amount of investment the program is expected to generate. The hope, based on a similar program tied to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, is that more than half the invited companies follow through with investment, though the results could take years, Robertson said.

A student of Vancouver's history with big business might point out that while large US or international firms occasionally set up offices here, most will not stay without strong ties to the region. Look at what happened with Ebay, for example.

Vancouver's Mayor says that the Games are a powerful opportunity to "brand" itself for international investors. While we here at salute any attempt to collaborate across city boundaries, MVC's initiative seems like a hastily arranged affair.

As the VEDC's soon-to-be-released economic strategy suggests, sustainable investment and affordable housing are the key ingredients to assure the success of Metro Vancouver business. Once the parties end, let's hope the region refocuses on things that will help foster and support indigenous business, and jobs that will stay here.


Not to mention Kodak (the former Creo) who are laying off the entire development team in Burnaby.

Brutal. Another great local company that is bought by a big competitor, then slowly collapsed here. Not saying they wouldn't be having similar market difficulties if they weren't owned by a multinational, but we hear story this too often.

"Electronic Arts, is dumping 17% of its workforce – about 1500 employees – the majority at their Burnaby studio."

I call hyperbolic bullshit. The majority won't be in Burnaby. EA has said the cuts in Burnaby will be "significant", but never claimed the majority will be here. There are only 1500 employees in total in Burnaby, and they're not laying off 750 of them.

The layoffs are mostly in EA Redwood Shores, Tiburon, Mythic, and Black Box. Of those, only Black Box is in Burnaby (it used to be in Yaletown), and it's a fairly small team (compared to the rest of EA Canada).

To clarify, 1500 is worldwide, not just in Canada (this was not clear from today's news). You're correct that there are just over 1600 employees in Burnaby. Blackbox is a memory, Tiburon is in Florida, Redwood Shores in Cali. If you're going to cut a lot of folks in Canada, they're going out of Burnaby. The "majority" of Canadian layoffs will happen in the Burnaby studio.

I feel badly for those who are losing their jobs. However, talent like this doesn't sit around long. Hopefully some great small outfits arise out of this change, like they have in the past.

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