Meet Mayoral Candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis

by Chamber Staff 31. July 2014 11:29

This election is a critical moment in time, a real turning point, mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis told the BOLD Winnipeg caucus.

“We have to get rid of the cloud hanging over city council. The first challenge is to rebuild trust … there’s a big barrier between citizens and council,” Wasylycia-Leis said, suggesting she’d put in place an oversight and accountability mechanism, such as conflict of interest guidelines and a code of ethics and conduct.

“We’ve got to stop the blaming and the lack of respect.”

Her BOLD idea for Winnipeg would be to give “life” to Our Winnipeg, the City’s official development plan guiding growth and change.

The document seems to be gathering dust on a shelf. Going forward, there must be a real dialogue with key players in the community, she said.

“Different pockets of people are doing things ‘inspite’ of City Hall. We need to collaborate and the mayor can act as a facilitator … a cheer leader.”

The challenge is how to implement neighbourhood and secondary plans, and to avoid developers looking to bypass these plans based on their own free-will.

She also indicated enough is enough … the City has been letting Winnipeg’s infrastructure slowly erode to the point there’s an $8-billion infrastructure deficit.

“It can’t be solved overnight, but my BOLD idea would be to have a plan … no bandaid approach. Over the next 20-30 year, this is how we’d address it. Funding would go to things that really matter and we’d get away from the legacy of neglect.”

She alluded to a proposed New Deal strategy from 10 years ago, which looked at new revenue sources, because cities today are taking on more responsibilities without having the dollars. She also expressed interest in the BOLD platform suggestion to look at other sources of revenue than property tax, including a municipal income tax and community bonds.

She added that should she be elected in October, she would like to have a small business roundtable within her first 100 days to talk about business-related issues, plus she’d like to establish a business advisory council.

“My other big concern is how do you enlist the untapped potential of Aboriginal youth,” she said, adding they represent a huge potential labour force, ready to be trained and contribute to growing our economy.

“We need to ensure people get a foot up … buy local, use local labour.”

She also pointed to Merchant’s Corner, a redevelopment project that is converting the Merchant’s Hotel on Selkirk Avenue into a multi-use community facility, as a model of how you can bring the community together.

In listening to the BOLD platform, she also expressed interested in plans for Innovation Alley and the West Exchange.

 

 

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Meet Mayoral Candidate Mike Vogiatzakis

by Chamber Staff 31. July 2014 08:33

Compassion and caring are the values mayoral candidate Mike Vogiatzakis wants to bring to City Hall.

“It’s not just about infrastructure … it’s people. It’s about us and our kids,” Vogiatzakis said in the first scheduled mayoral candidate meeting with members of the BOLD Winnipeg caucus.

“I want to be a people’s mayor. People are struggling. Our kids need hope … to see a future. Why spend $590 million for a transit system when people are falling apart, when our infrastructure is falling apart,” the general manager of Voyage Funeral Home said.

The city is getting a bad reputation for crime and gangs. People need to feel safe, he added, referring to his plan for Safe Zones – areas monitored by surveillance cameras.

He called for an expansion of the Cadet program, which would provide training, then allow the Cadets to take over the enforcement roles of the Winnipeg Parking Authority and the traffic division of the Winnipeg Police Service, lowering costs.

In a wide-ranging discussion of issues related to the BOLD Winnipeg platform, he suggested the creation of a tax-free zone downtown, which would give businesses two years to establish themselves before paying taxes.

He suggested a tendering process, whereby the City would post tenders online, so the public would know why a proposal was picked.

When asked about accountability at City Hall, he stated that if there’s wrong-doing, charges should be laid, and if projects come in over-budget, the process should be investigated.

He added there should be no such thing as closed-door meetings and that a record of how council voted should be available online.

For the next generation to understand and get involved in politics, he would create a junior council, he said.

On transportation and infrastructure, he said the city must consider new technologies and products to extend the life and durability of our roads, and to speed up construction, crews should work round-the-clock.

The City must also have long-term plans and budgets. Complete details of w  hat the City spends each month should be available on its website, not unlike a bank statement.

“If we run the city efficiently, we don’t need to raise taxes,” he said, adding it would be a “great idea” for the City to adopt ISO standards.

Other suggestions for making Winnipeg a better city were pedestrian-only corridors and 24-hour bus service.

 

 

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Meet One of Our Newest Members

by Chamber Staff 28. July 2014 05:18

 

We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Jordan Molaro, owner, Interactive Design

What does your company do?

Using my experience as an independent filmmaker doing short films, documentaries and music videos with a cinematic flair, I am currently transitioning into broadcast … it really is great to wake up each day and love what you do.

What company or business person most inspires you?

I’d have to say Steve Jobs. The thing about him is he pushed boundaries and went against the grain when needed.

How did you get the idea for your business or why did you choose to go into this business?

I have always had a passion for film. I was exposed to filmmaking at a young age and at 13, received a scholarship to the Manitoba Theatre for Young People. Later, I enrolled in the University of Manitoba where I discovered a strong enthusiasm for directing films. Now, I work as a full-time director and producer of independent and commercial projects. 

In 2012, I co-founded the Nu Media program with Gord Pertruic, which immersed eight Aboriginal students in the world of film. Each student was able to learn first-hand and work with senior industry professionals. The seven-week, hands-on “all things film” program gave opportunity to these students, who had their films shown at the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival.

In 2013, 24 students were enrolled in the Nu Media Program from places such as Peguis First Nation, Ebb and Flow First Nation and Sayisi Dene First Nation. Each of the students stayed in Winnipeg and were offered more than 20 workshops and seminars by our ever-growing faculty of industry-leading professionals, non-profit organizations, broadcasters and production companies. This enabled the students to create six fascinating and creative films. They also interned with companies such as CBC, Mid-Can and Buffalo Gal.

It became clear after, that there are few on-reserve opportunities because of limited access to equipment. As a result, we are taking the Nu Media Program on-tour and striving to get a camera in every community across Manitoba.

Apart from training, we have started working on a 13-part documentary broadcast series with APTN – our first - and we are very excited.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Not having the environment/capacity to support what we do. As I result, we’ve just moved into new space in The Exchange, 201-245 McDermot Ave. It’s beautiful.

What’s the most important issue facing business today?

Maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit.

Why did you join The Chamber?

Winnipeg is truly a word of mouth town. The Chamber is a community and it’s good knowing we’re all connected … The Chamber provides accessibility to businesses in all sectors in Winnipeg and beyond.

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Meet One of Our Newest Members

by Admin 16. July 2014 11:34

We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Gary Gervais, president of Heartland International English School

What does your company do?

We do English language training for international students here on a visitor or study permit. We recruit them to come to Winnipeg. In Manitoba, international education has a $230-million economic impact, but many people don’t know anything about the industry.

What company or business person most inspires you?

Within my industry, I’d say a company out of Australia, Navitas, which is a good 15-20 years ahead of Canada – they’re more savvy and cutting edge. In Australia, the international education industry is a $16-billion industry annually compared to $8 billion in Canada – it’s Australia’s largest export service industry. However, last year, the Canadian government came out and said they want to double the number of international students by 2022.

How did you get the idea for your business or why did you choose to go into this business?

I had been teaching English in Japan. When I came back to Winnipeg, I started the language school. It’s fascinating dealing with cultures from all over the world. Most of the students are in their 20s, starting their careers, and they see English as a big part of their career advancement – they’re highly motivated.

Since I opened in 1999, I have had students from 73 different countries. Last year alone, I had students from 34 countries.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

It depends on which day, which hour. But I’d have to say the biggest challenge is the issue of visas. A few years ago, the federal government announced at 4 p.m., that effective at midnight the same day, Mexicans had to have visas. It gutted the market for us. After June 1 this year, students can no longer enter Canada through a language co-op program. That represented about 20 per cent of our business, but we saw it coming and made adjustments. It’s definitely a forever shifting landscape, which is a challenge.

What’s the most important issue facing business today?

In my world, it’s again visas. However, there are always issues if you want to grow and finance your business. Unlike other businesses, we have no worker shortages.

Why did you join The Chamber?

To raise the visibility of my industry and to network. 100 per cent of my business is selling overseas, so locally people don’t know about Heartland. When I go to lobby government, nobody knows about the industry, so I want to change that.

 

 

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Meet One of Our Newest Members

by Chamber Staff 14. July 2014 08:34

We are pleased to introduce one of our newest members, Susie Parker, owner of Sparker Strategy Group.

What does your company do?

We do social media, marketing and public relations.

What company or business person most inspires you?

Arlene Dickenson – I admire her because she has a successful communications company and did what she did as a single mom with four kids.

How did you get the idea for your business or why did you choose to go into this business?

Ever since Facebook and even before with LinkedIn, I’ve been involved with social media … helping my Mom-preneur friends. When I was on mat leave, the company I was working for was bought out, so I decided to start my own agency because no one was providing professional help. It was the perfect time to enter the marketplace … that was three years ago this week.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Social media changes so fast, it’s hard to stay on top of the various platforms and new networks and to maintain my knowledge base for clients.

What’s the most important issue facing business today?

Being digitally intelligent – managing your online real estate.

Why did you join The Chamber?

To network and to learn more about business locally. For a social media firm, it makes sense to be social.

 

 

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Summer issue of pegBiz

by Admin 5. June 2014 05:53
 
Hot off the press! Have you seen the latest edition of 'pegBIZ magazine? A collaboration of the Winnipeg Free Press, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and the Asper School of Business, 'pegBIZ explores a common goal - to ensure Winnipeg is a great place to live and work. Click here to read the latest edition including stories on start-ups, leadership and innovation.

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Meet Our Chamber Staff - Erin Stagg

by Chamber Staff 12. May 2014 05:45

What do you do at The Chamber?

I look after memberships. I sell new memberships, assist with retention and work with current members to help them develop relationships.

When did you start at The Chamber?

The first time was when I was 18 and was doing my work practicum. They put me in a backroom with a bunch of boxes … it was exciting. I got to stay on, filling in for the front receptionist, who went on maternity leave. When she didn’t come back, there was an opportunity for me to become a marketing assistant, working with members. I did that for three years, then went back to school, taking Business Administration at Red River College.

The second time was shortly after I graduated and was working retail. Karen Weiss called me, saying they needed someone to do accounting and administration. I came back to The Chamber and when a sales position opened up, they asked me if I’d try it. I did. I left several years later to work at a college.

The third time was after I discovered I missed the business side of my career, so I came back in a membership role again. I also got to plan trips to China.

What’s the best part of working at The Chamber?

The people – my colleagues and the members. I love meeting people, learning about their work and about new business concepts, such as the young entrepreneur who started Winnipeg Trolley. I also like helping members connect with people whom they might not be able to meet on their own.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I love curling and to dance … that I’m a mom - people can’t seem to picture that.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

The friendliness of the people and how giving people are here … it’s very community oriented. Because I’m from a small town, I didn’t think it would be like that. Although it’s a city, I like how it’s smaller.

 

 

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Meet Our Chamber Staff - Yanik Ottenbreit

by Chamber Staff 5. May 2014 05:54

 

What do you do at The Chamber?

I am special events co-ordinator, which in itself is a “special” position because I’m shared between The Chamber and the World Trade Centre Winnipeg. I am currently working on Centrallia Manitoba and various other tasks as they come.

When did you start at The Chamber?

Jan. 13, 2014. 

What’s the best part of working at The Chamber?

Learning how the city actually works … the importance of The Chamber having been here for 140 years ... creating partnerships and connecting with people. Another favourite part of the job is being able to listen to inspirational people.

What’s your education and work background?

I worked for five years as manager of Jardins St. Leon Gardens, plus I’ve had various sales jobs. I attended the University of St. Boniface and have a Business Administration diploma. I’m constantly educating myself through written articles, TED talks and documentaries.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I can do various yoga poses that have shown me I can reach my full potential. Because of yoga, I know that if I set my mind on certain things, I can accomplish them. I need to transfer that mentality to my professional career. It may seem hard now, but I know the goal is obtainable.

What do you love most about Winnipeg?

Having proximity access to family and friends, entertainment and especially the four seasons. I lived in Ecuador and six months of rain is really miserable.

 

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Chamber Supports Local Kayaker's Dreams of Gold

by Chamber Staff 28. April 2014 10:44

Back in 2006, The Chamber met local kayaker Dave Anderson. We helped raise funds through the Manitoba Podium Program, so Dave could train full-time in the hope of qualifying for Canada’s National Team and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Over the years, we’ve continued to support Dave’s efforts, including his participation last September in the World Championships, where he placed 21st in men’s doubles.

Since the World Championships, Dave has been training for the coming season. Over the winter, he found a better way to balance work, training and life. His winter training consisted of weight lifting, running and swimming. There wasn't much skiing due to the extreme cold, so it was extra running for him!  

In March, he traveled to Lake Conroe, Texas, to help coach the Manitoba provincial canoe/kayak team, as well as do his own training. By trading shifts, he arranged for time off work as a paramedic. He was in Texas for four weeks and kayaked a total of 730 kilometres! The training was productive, but it was a little disheartening to come back to ice on the river. However, it didn't last long and he’s now out on the fast-moving river.

His goal this year is to race at the World Championships in Oklahoma City in September. But first he must qualify this August in Winnipeg. His biggest problem is the lack of marathon races held in Canada. There are a few sprint races, but that’s it.

If he can find a sponsor, Dave would like to race at the only World Cup marathon race this year in Slovenia. It takes place in June. Going to this race would allow him to compete, evaluate how his training is going and adjust accordingly. Most of his competitors will have had at least six races under their belts to his one. That makes a huge difference in preparing for the world championships.

Anyone who might consider sponsoring Dave can contact him at dave_anderson@live.com.

 

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National Volunteer Week - Thank You to Our Volunteers

by Chamber Staff 8. April 2014 07:16


National Volunteer Week (April 6-12, 2014) is a time to recognize, celebrate and thank Canada’s 13.3-million volunteers. Volunteers strengthen our communities and make our country vibrant.

At The Chamber, volunteers are our lifeblood, whether our Ambassadors, board of directors, committee members or just those who support what we do and step up to the plate. A BIG thank you!!!

As it is National Volunteer Week, there is also an opportunity to give some thought to nominating a local business, not-for-profit or individual for the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards.



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