Ben Glickman, CEO of Bitcoin Central, has distributed and maintained automated currency machines since 2018 with the company’s most advanced ATM unit located at Pacific Northwest Garden Supply. Photo: Darren Davidson

Ben Glickman, CEO of Bitcoin Central, has distributed and maintained automated currency machines since 2018 with the company’s most advanced ATM unit located at Pacific Northwest Garden Supply. Photo: Darren Davidson

BUSINESS BUZZ: State of the Sectors report provide front-line findings, Kootenay’s burgeoning Bitcoin boss

All the latest in local business from Darren Davidson

by Darren Davidson

From pandemic to historic highs in inflation, housing shortages and global economic disruption, the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce has released the findings of a four-month study on the impact these discombobulated days have had on the region’s business sector.

“These sector case studies drew on the front-line experience of dozens of the region’s business owners,” says Chamber executive director Tom Thomson. “We held round tables and one-on-one interviews with over 75 members of the local business community.”

Called The State of the Sectors, Thomson says the results provide a timely understanding of the issues local entrepreneurs are facing in the food and beverage, retail, and building and construction sectors. Community Futures has also produced a case study on the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector.

“We conducted interviews and analysis over the entire second quarter of 2022,” Thomson adds, “so we’ve been able to observe the waning impacts of COVID and the shift to new hurdles presented by inflation and economic turbulence.”

But the studies do more than simply track challenges, Thomson adds.

“With the advice and insight we garnered, we then inventoried opportunities for support, and advocacy — which is one of the Chamber’s main roles in the business community.”

More than 45 aims for action and lobbying were developed, all of which will be shared with local, regional provincial and federal levels of government.

The State of the Sectors case studies are available on the Chamber’s website at discovernelson.com/news/state-of-the-sectors/.

The studies are a partnership between the Chamber, The Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, Community Futures Central Kootenay and the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI BC).

Amongst a few dozen take aways, the State of the Sector study found that labour attraction and retention are still amongst the top challenges facing businesses.

While almost all the federal and provincial pandemic recovery programs have wrapped up, the BC Employee Training Grant is still there for employers looking for workers. The application process has been streamlined, in-take is continuous, and the program offers reimbursements of 80 per cent on expenditures of up to $10,000 for employee training, for businesses and non-profits that have been at it for at least a year.

Housing — or the shortage thereof — is also a major issue that’s got local employers handcuffed, and folks who simply can’t find the dough to live here, let alone an available home. This is a problem in many communities a cross the continent — especially popular mountain towns.

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Back on the cyber-highway. (Does anyone call it that anymore? Did anyone, ever?)

Kootenay crypto currency expert Ben Glickman has a great story to share. The 48-year-old is the CEO and sole owner of Bitcoin Central, which has distributed and maintains automated bitcoin currency machines.

Glickman says he saw demand for “an on-ramp for consumers looking for an alternative to traditional finance” while he was living in Vancouver, and realized there were no crypto ATMs between Calgary and the Okanagan.

“So I started with a hokey Squarespace website I put together in about half and hour,” Glickman laughs, “and put my first ATM in the old Burrell’s grocery store, which of course is now defunct.”

Jump ahead from the low key kick off, four years and one global pandemic later, and Glickman now has 21 machines across the province in from Cranbrook to Revelstoke to Prince George.

The ATMs are manufactured in the Czech Republic.

For those who can’t quite get their head’s around cryptocurrency: here’s a Crypto for Dummies crash course. Written by a dummy in said field.

Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is all digital, there’s no physical legal tender that changes hands. Cryptocurrency is decentralized — no bank or big business owns or controls it. The transaction, or transfer of value, is peer-to-peer. And the ‘ledger’ that keeps track of all transactions is done on what’s called the block chain — it’s a public record of all transactions. To give someone your cryptocurrency, a puzzle of digital information needs to be ‘solved’ first. Someone who solves the puzzle is a third party, called a miner. They get a bit of cryptocurrency for solving the puzzle, and completing the transaction.

Glickman says when cryptocurrency first started, a person could noodle away on their home computer and figure out the puzzle themselves. No longer. Big companies with massive crypto-mining facilities dot the globe. The City of Nelson banned crypto mining because of the enormous amount of power it requires. But there are a number of mining sites here in the Kootenays, including Christina Lake, Trail and Canal Flats.

Learn more by visiting bitcoincentralatm.

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Speaking of mining, a lot of Kootenay households, from Christina Lake to Kimberley, have Teck Resources, and before that Cominco, to thank for smelter or mine paycheques and more than a few favourable stock runs. That’d include Don Lindsay. Teck’s venerable CEO — one of the world’s longest serving Big Mining CEOs — is stepping down after 17 years.

Bloomberg reports the 63-year old “made a number of large deals but also received criticism from investors over his pay and performance.”

In fact, he faced calls for his ouster in 2020 when Impala Asset Management LLC claimed he’d hurt share prices and was overpaid. Bloomberg reports that Teck shares reached a multi-year high in June, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine shot prices for Teck commodities like coal, copper and zinc way up there. The firm’s second-quarter adjusted profit available to shareholders was a record $1.8 billion, or $3.30 a share.

An aside — the RDCK is working with Teck to build a park on 17 hectares of land it owns near Taghum Hall. Maybe they’ll name it after Mr. Lindsay. Don’s Taghum Tents and Teeter Totterin’. There ya go.

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Just quickly — we’ll have more on these business stories in a few weeks.

A few years after purchasing the former Can-Filters facility on the North Shore, GreenLight Solutions and its cannabis brand Woody Nelson are officially the city’s first licensed producer.

Health Canada has approved all of the company’s licences. GreenLight’s next-generation facility and vision for not only state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation, but future-ready, climate-resilient agricultural production, are remarkable additions to the region’s business landscape.

Also next column, we’ll pull up some curb for a chat with Quinn Cameron, the city’s farmers market co-ordinator on the successful return of MarketFest and weekly market events to Baker Street.

Stay cool.