In the most recent federal budget, $950 million in funding was announced to support a federal Innovation Supercluster strategy. Clusters are where companies, non-profits, academic institutions and others come together to share knowledge, data and resources. The goal of a supercluster is to produce globally competitive, high growth companies and products.
Earlier today further details on how that $950 million will be awarded was announced. The funding will support up to five superclusters, and for the past two years, a business-led group right here in Winnipeg has being putting together the perfect proposal for the federal government.
EMILI, (the Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative) was formed with a vision to make Manitoba the most advanced agricultural economy in the world. EMILI looks to take advantage of our technology companies and their strengths in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and combine that with our agricultural prowess. Paired together this could lead to improved crop productivity, better food and animal safety, as well as improved market access.
By 2050, global food demand is expected to rise by 70%. To meet this challenge innovations such as the ones EMILI can develop will become a necessity. All of this could not come at a better time, as the world is going to need as much food in the next 45 years as we have for the past 10,000.
EMILI presents an incredible opportunity for Manitoba to cement itself as the pre-eminent leader in global agriculture, and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is a proud supporter of the initiative.
It’s time to think about social enterprise – about tackling social issues, raising visibility, engaging new donors and (while at the same time) creating new ways to meet your organization’s revenue goals. The Charitable sector needs to diversify its funding sources and think of creative, innovative strategies to generate more revenue. Social enterprise is one option.
WRENCH is a great example of an organization who does this well. On the surface, they look like a place that fixes bikes but they’re much deeper than that - they tackle several social issues. They teach kids a valuable skill - how to fix bicycles. They provide the kids in their program develop a sense of ownership and helps them to gain a greater respect and appreciation for their community around them. Their program promotes bike recycling and bike use, increasing sustainability and the bike culture in the city. They provide a safe place for kids to gather, to interact with volunteers, be mentored and to see the impact of their hard work. It is an inspiring place. I encourage you to visit them and when you’re looking for a new bike, buy from them and support their valuable work.
Marymound and L’Arche are other great examples of creative and social enterprise. They’ve created businesses and new revenue streams, while engaging new donor (or customer) audiences. Maymound has started a catering company that is teaching business, cooking and presentation skills to young people in its programs. Under the direction of a chef, these kids are learning how to cater events, providing them with employment options for their future. L’Arche Winnipeg has the delicious Tova Cafe, serving great food and providing work experience to people with disabilities. The café also encourages its customers to interact with and get to know a person with a disability, to demonstrate social responsibility, and ultimately to build a more compassionate society. Both are excellent options for your organizations next event catering needs!
In addition to our province being known as the most generous in the country, we are also known for entrepreneurial spirit. WRENCH, Marymound and L’Arche are examples of how these, when mixed with creativity and innovation, make an inspirational combination.
This article first appeared in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's "Five Minutes for Business" on May 23, 2017.
Tick-tock! The U.S. Trade Representative just sent the official notification to Congress that NAFTA negotiations will begin in 90 days. The Canadian government must now negotiate and resolve all the hot button issues with our American and Mexican friends—in the midst of a highly charged political environment. How will it play out?
For the next 90 days, every special interest and aggrieved Wisconsin dairy producer will have a chance to provide input during the consultation period under Trade Promotion Authority. Then, whatever new agreement is negotiated must pass the House and the Senate. All three governments want NAFTA 2.0 wrapped up ASAP. Canada wants to end the uncertainty that is hurting investment, and for our partners, it is even more urgent.
Mexico’s presidential election is set for July 2018 and will be in full election season by the early spring. Polls show the current leader is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a fiery left-wing nationalist who filed a human rights complaint against Mr. Trump and his plans for the border wall. He calls it embarrassing to see the current Mexican government prostrate before Trump. Mexico’s government would dearly love to conclude the NAFTA well before the election.
Similarly, U.S. mid-term elections will be held on November 6, 2018, and Republicans need to show progress on trade. The likelihood of NAFTA passing Congress drops off significantly after the mid-terms.
Gallup points out that when the U.S. President has an approval rating below 50%, his party loses an average of 36 seats during mid-term elections. President Trump’s approval rating is well south of 50%, in the high-30s. If the administration remains mired in scandals, special counsels and the Russian Connection, the Republican house is likely to lose its 31-seat majority. Would a newly-elected Democratic house be eager to pass Mr. Trump’s NAFTA? No way.
Is it even possible to renegotiate NAFTA before the deadlines? The original Canada-U.S. FTA took 18 months (May 1986 to Oct 4 1987), and our governments at the time were the closest of friends.
So it’s possible but very unlikely because of the politics. We often hear from Americans that Canada is not the main target of U.S. trade ire. Canada just needs to give the Trump administration a PR win, which it defines as a big give on supply management and softwood lumber, then it can have whatever it wants— regulatory cooperation, movement of people, maybe even an exemption from Buy American.
But the politics are awful because Mr. Trump’s bullying, blustering threats have made it impossible for Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Pena Nieto to agree to concessions without appearing weak. Their supporters despise Mr. Trump and would be furious. And even if it wasn’t politically poisonous, why should we make concessions for another country’s domestic politics?
There may be another way. The USTR referred to NAFTA modernization as opposed to renegotiation. In the past, NAFTA has been amended extensively without going back to Congress. We could add a chapter on ecommerce, fix the rules of origin and sign a bunch of side letters that could give the Americans the win they need. Let’s hope they take what they can get. Otherwise, NAFTA 2.0 is doomed.
Earlier this year, one of the largest transactions in Manitoba history was sealed and Dan McKeen's life shifted from east to west. The former head of Bell Alliant officially took the role of Vice Chair, Bell MTS & Western Canada along with the task of integrating two mammoth teams.
On Tuesday, May 30, Bell Canada CEO George Cope will be speaking in Winnipeg on his company's plans to invest $1 billion in Manitoba's telecommunications infrastructure over five years. Leading up the event, we chatted with Dan about his past experiences, current challenges and how he's finding the new assignment.
The Winnipeg Chamber: How are you enjoying Winnipeg so far?
Dan McKeen: I've really enjoyed Winnipeg since I arrived in March. I’ve been warmly welcomed by our team and customers, and the broader business community has been extremely open and receptive. Winnipeg has a real vibrancy and culture in the downtown core and it’s a fun place to live.
WC: What differences are you seeing between your time at Bell Alliant and Bell MTS?
DM: Although Bell Aliant operated in four provinces rather than one, there are many similarities. As part of my role at Bell Aliant, I led the rollout of broadband communications services across the region significantly improving the products and services we were able to provide. My focus in Manitoba is delivering on our $1 billion broadband network expansion plan across the province to deliver a similar improvement in products and services.
Both Atlantic Canada and Manitoba have pockets of denser populations and large rural areas with relatively low population density. It’s a similar challenge in terms of size and geography when it comes to bringing world class network speeds to traffic corridors, rural locations and remote communities.
WC: What sorts of benefits come from being part of a larger national company as opposed to a standalone entity like MTS?
DM: Combining Bell and MTS brings together the best of both worlds: The MTS team’s deep local knowledge of the Manitoba marketplace, and the scale and resources of a national player like Bell, which has become Canada’s growth leader in broadband wireless, Internet, TV and media services is a winning strategy for Manitoba consumers.
I witnessed firsthand the benefits Bell’s scale brought to Atlantic Canada in areas such as wireless, fibre networks, data centre and security services – delivered by local management who can execute locally better than anyone. With the commitment and technical skills of the Bell MTS staff, and capital investment that previously wasn’t possible, we’ll be bringing these same kinds of benefits throughout the province.
And I really cannot overstate just how impressed I have been by the strength and capabilities of the team in Manitoba over the past few months. The people on the ground here are completely in sync with their national counterparts and everyone is singularly focused on how we can deliver more for Manitobans.
But the benefits go beyond just delivering bigger and better networks or new and cutting edge technology. Bell MTS is also committed to strengthening Manitoba communities through initiatives such as Bell Let's Talk, which is expanding in the province with a new dedicated fund for Indigenous mental health.
WC: Bell has committed to a $1B infrastructure investment plan over the next five years, with some projects already announced. Are there any priorities you can share in regards to the business community?
DM: We are already delivering on that $1 billion investment. The same day we launched Bell MTS, we announced the completion of our first infrastructure project: New 4G LTE wireless service for the town of Churchill. A growing ecotourism and research centre, the Polar Bear Capital of the World is now served by the fastest mobile network speeds in North America, and will soon be connected with new broadband fibre connections.
On top of that, Bell MTS has announced plans for continuous broadband wireless coverage along Highway 75 in southern Manitoba, Highway 6 in northern Manitoba and the expansion of mobile and wireline broadband networks in several northern Manitoba communities. We have unveiled a sponsorship for Innovation Alley to support Manitoba’s digital economy with the fastest Internet and wireless services available anywhere. And we’re excited to bring new innovations like Gigabit Fibe Internet, Fibe TV, Alt TV and LTE-Advanced wireless to Manitoba.
By investing $1 billion over five years, Bell MTS will broaden access to services, enhance customer experiences, and improve economic competitiveness and productivity in Manitoba. And that’s something that will benefit not just our customers and their families, but the province as a whole.
Deschenes Regnier introduces Launch! A program to help small businesses get their marketing started.
As a business do you find marketing an expense you don’t want to incur? Are you afraid marketing agencies are simply too expensive for what you need? Do you wonder if there is any value in getting help for your marketing needs?
With all the challenges small businesses face, it is sometimes difficult to dedicate the time (and the resources) to develop the marketing message and materials they need to make their business successful.
But in the initial stages, all that may be needed is a simple marketing audit and a basic, implementable plan that acknowledges the company’s available resources. By developing this plan early on, businesses can often save a significant amount of time and money later in their business cycle.
Deschenes Regnier’s Launch! Program provides an opportunity for businesses to get their marketing started today. Sign up for Launch and we will:
Learn more about how the Launch! Program can help you get your marketing started. We are hosting an Open House for Launch! on:
June 14, 2017 from 4:30-6:00 pm
Kitchen-Sync (370 Donald Street)
Step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Suddenly, the visible becomes invisible, perspectives are transformed, and the world is literally turned upside down.
Cirque du Soleil's big top show KURIOS thunders into Winnipeg June 2 to July 9. Our members and their employees can get a up to 15% off* tickets for the show and turn their world upside down.
* Limited time offer, available on a first come, first serve basis while supplies last. Valid for tickets in categories 1, 2 and 3, for shows from Sunday through Friday. Cannot be combined with other offers and must be purchased online.
On October 1 of this year, Manitoba’s minimum wage will rise to $11.15, the first increase in two years. From 2001 to 2015 Manitoba’s minimum wage was increased every year by at least $0.20, and quite often was increased by even higher amounts. These increases were never attached to any metric or measurement, they were just imposed by the government on employers. However recently introduced legislation could make minimum wage changes less arbitrary.
Bill 33: The Minimum Wage Indexation Act, looks to adjust the minimum wage each year to match changes in the Manitoba Consumer Price Index. Before April 1 of each year, (starting in 2018) the government would be required to post what the minimum wage increase would be on October 1. In addition the legislation allows for cabinet to cancel scheduled minimum wage increases in the event of a recession, or if there is one being forecasted.
By the government using the Manitoba Consumer Price Index, minimum wage increases in Manitoba will not be tied to prices in Toronto. As well these changes will allow businesses more breathing room in tougher economic times. Most importantly though it provides a clear and transparent manner for minimum wage increases going forward. No longer will minimum wage increases be decided on the back of a napkin.
However the debate often gets stuck on what the minimum wage should be, rather than how to get people out of minimum wage jobs. Governments need to focus on providing educational and skills training programs that will help lift more minimum wage earners into higher paying positions and careers.
Most people cringe when they hear the word “fundraising.” It brings up feelings of begging. Or being pressured to give. Or guilt. Or they associate fundraising with organizing a golf tournament or selling raffle tickets.
In truth, fundraising is necessary for most social impact organizations to be able to do their important work in the world addressing complex problems. There are unfortunately a lot of myths about fundraising and reasons why people shy away from doing it well.
On June 8, Laura and Julie Mikuska of Mikuska Group will lead a workshop for The Canadian CED Network (CCEDNet) for its members and non-members on Understanding Fundraising.
The half-day workshop will cover what motivates people to give, how to communicate effectively with donors through telling stories, how and when to ask them to give, and how to manage donor relationships effectively. The discussion will also focus on creating a culture of engagement and philanthropy in organizations, and how everyone, from program staff, to board members and volunteers, can be part of this culture.
Participants will learn the Seven Principles of Donor Love and how they can apply them to appeal to donors, celebrate them as heroes and make the case for them to keep giving.
Register at the CCEDNet website.
Winnipeg Chamber: What’s your definition of mindfulness?
Keith Macpherson: I just finished writing my first book entitled, Making Sense of Mindfulness, where I put together a five step framework for making sense of this word and understanding how to integrate it into our lives. I would say to summarize mindfulness, it is paying attention to the present moment and learning how to align your thinking mind, body and creative soul.
WC: How do you find balance between the projects you’re involved in and the rest of your life?
KM: I spend up to two hours a day practicing meditation, mindfulness and writing every morning. This is an absolute essential to staying balanced for me.
WC: Is it wrong to associate mindfulness with caring less about outcomes?
KM: There is no right or wrong in a mindfulness practice. In my experience, the outcomes in life simply produce results to continue to grow from. I believe it is important to visualize the outcomes you desire and then practice enjoying (or shall I say in-joy-ing) each moment along the journey.
WC: What’s the first thing you do when you meet with a client to who’s struggling with work life balance?
KM: I ask them what they truly want and to give me as much detail about what an ideal work/life balance would be for them.
WC: What do you hope people take away from the Small Business Forum?
KM: I believe that everything is happening perfectly on time. My wish is that everyone will get exactly what they need out of this event. May the right words be spoken and the ideal experience be lived. Come with an open mind.
WC: What are you working toward these days?
KM: I am in the process of completing the final edits of my new book, Making Sense of Mindfulness and just finished filming a live lecture, television special at The Burton Cummings Theatre that will support my work in mindfulness. My dream is to make mindfulness a more accessible practice for everyone on our planet.
The Winnipeg Chamber: How do you find savings most small businesses wouldn’t realize are available?
Hernan Popper: Schooley Mitchell has been in business since 1980 and negotiated contracts and rates for over 17,000 clients. We keep doing it for hundred of clients every week for both telecom and credit card processing fees. We have a tremendous negotiating power and clout, and we know every single vendor and rate available. Being independent and objective, we don't collect any commissions, residuals or payments from any vendor. As such, we will always recommend what is best for our clients.
WC: What do you usually find when you go through clients’ bills and contracts with telecom/merchant service providers?
HP: I’ve found in many cases errors like telephone lines that were disconnected years ago but are still being charged, services invoiced at different rates than contracted, features which simply could not be used by the clients, and multiple fees and other charges that should not be charged at all. With several of my non- profit clients, I helped them get all the paperwork in order to qualify for charity rates and discounted fees.
WC: How do you follow up with clients to ensure their savings continue?
HP: When the client approves our recommendation, we implement the new solution, whether that's a new agreement with the same vendor or switching to another provider. In over 70 per cent of cases, clients will stay with the incumbent at a better rate.
Once implemented, we check our clients’ invoices every month, and we present a comprehensive post audit report every three months showing the realized savings, ensuring that everything is charged as negotiated and no new fees or price increases show up. When we learn about new promotions or reduced prices, we reach out to all our eligible clients, and we stay vigilant of all options in the marketplace to make sure our clients never pay more than what they should.
WC: How difficult is it to work on contingency only?
HP: It is a risky proposition for us to only collect a fee if we find savings and once these savings are realized. Even if we find savings and the client decides not to implement a recommendation, we do not charge anything for the audit and the negotiation.
But I can do this for two reasons: over 80 per cent of clients are paying more than what they should and - as an industry professional with over 25 years experience at several different telecom companies in Canada and overseas, working on designing, implementing and supporting services and billing systems - I'm very efficient in finding those savings. I know where to look.
In the few cases where I was not able to find any savings, my clients got a free confirmation they were completely optimized, and became my biggest fans and promoters to their business connections and partners, so "contingency" still paid off in a way. I also worked with on a couple of fee-based consulting engagements, based on a specific scope of work or requirements. Word of mouth and referrals from existing clients have been my biggest growth path so far.
WC: What’s your opinion of the telecom market in Manitoba, given all the changes we’re seeing?
HP: It is a great time in Manitoba; now is time for the incumbent provider to deliver on their promise to bring new, faster, cheaper services to business and end users in our province. It is a matter of seeing whether they do it or not. Another very interesting factor is we don’t have a regional telecommunications company anymore, so loyalty based on the fact it is a local company will definitely change.
WC: What do you like about your job?
HP: I love every single meeting, every discussion, every time I identify savings - and my clients’ reactions when I show them the results of my work. I also love learning about the constant evolving technology and helping my clients get the best solution for their needs.
There are two moments that stand out to me from this first year of business. The first one is when I told one of my clients they were receiving a cheque for over $9100 for six years of incorrect billing from their telecom provider. They were amazed.
The second moment is when the Executive Director of a local non-profit said they will be able to hire another staff thanks to the savings I found for them on their credit card processing fees. It just felt great.