Recently, I read an article by Sir Richard Branson where he said “Storytelling is as old as the campfire”. He is absolutely right. Right here in our province, people have been gathering for thousands of years to share stories, thoughts and ideas. And thankfully we still do that today.
The words of Sir Branson made me even more proud of The Winnipeg Foundation’s recent initiative Fast Pitch. Since January, 15 charities have been working with coaches from the private sector to deliver their “Fast Pitch” or a mini case for support in 3 minutes or less. The initiative combined the magic of storytelling with the strategy of a compelling and urgent request for support. As a coach, I loved learning about an organization, hearing their stories and helping them craft what we believed supporters might invest in. As a Winnipegger, I was awestruck by the inspiring work that is being done quietly every day in our city. Bright, compassionate people are working hard on finding solutions to some of the biggest issues our community faces.
Fast Pitch was a good reminder of the importance of storytelling when engaging our donors. To return to the words of our friend, the knighted entrepreneur, “the ability to tell a story with passion, humour and heart will help build trust. When I am listening to business pitches, if I can understand the vision of the entrepreneur through their storytelling, I am far more likely to get interested.”
His thoughts work for charitable “pitches” too. People give to people. Stories transcend cultures and when combined with the right call to action, motivate donors to become engaged. In the end, it is all about sharing, caring and giving.
The judge’s winner of The Winnipeg Foundation’s Fast Pitch was Chelsea from Sunshine House. In her pitch, she introduced us to Dave, who loves his kids and just wants to live a life of value. With their $10,000 prize, they are using social innovation to convert a garage to a greenhouse to grow vegetables to feed their program participants, sell to restaurants and donate back to Winnipeg Harvest. You never know, Chelsea, you just might find a donor in Sir Richard Branson!
March 20 was a busy day in our province, legislatively.
While a number of acts and amendments were introduced (read our response on cannabis harm reduction, removing the tuition cap, vehicles for hire), significant focus is trained on the public services sustainability act introduced to address Manitoba's significant deficit.
Among other things, the proposed legislation introduces a four-year period of capped pay increases for public servants while respecting existing agreements and pensions. Maintaining those collective agreements is critically important to labour stability and, in doing so, the government is taking a reasoned and responsible approach to addressing Manitoba's systemic deficit.
As we've previously stated, however, wages and benefits represent just one important areas for savings. They're not sufficient unto themselves to fix our fiscal imbalance.
The Winnipeg Chamber is eager to hear how this government will work with partners to capitalize on opportunities – particularly opportunities to innovate how services are delivered for Manitobans. Therein lies the best path toward fiscal health and enhanced results for the long term, so we encourage the province and its employee representatives to continue to negotiate in good faith beyond salaries and benefits to how system wide innovation can be implemented.
Manitobans are hungry for positive messaging on our future, for a call to take action as well as accept trimmed budgets. We encourage the government to transition from talking about our financial challenges to advancing tangible solutions to overcome those challenges.
While this legislation is an important first step, we look forward to the details coming out in April 11 budget which will give Manitobans a much deeper appreciation for how the province will solve our fiscal situation.
If our focus in Manitoba is on education quality and empowering students to be as successful as possible, the recent move by the province to remove the long imposed tuition cap is a big step in the right direction.
Rather than arbitrarily keeping tuition low across the board - for middle and upper income students as well as low-income students - our focus needs to be on removing financial barriers where there's the biggest need. Robust bursaries and gradated tuition based on income are the best ways to ensure every student, regardless of finances, can reach their full potential with quality education and training.
Our one size fits all approach has hamstrung our post secondary institutions for too long and The Winnipeg Chamber is glad to see this change. (For further reading, we suggest the Winnipeg Free Press editorial Springtime for universities as tuition freeze ends.)
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has long been an advocate of ride sharing services being welcomed into our province and city, so it's no surprise we're extraordinarily pleased with Manitoba's new efforts to modernize our vehicles for hire rules. It's a move that increases competition - driving innovation - and expands options for consumers.
Putting the regulation of this industry into the hands of municipalities - where the industry takes place - is a wise choice and we look forward to working with the Mayor and Council. We're particularly hopeful Winnipeg chooses to regulate outcomes of ride sharing, rather than business models.
Lyft, Uber and other organizations operate using different models than traditional taxis. It's possible a new innovation is just around the corner that will further disrupt city transportation. That’s where innovation lies. If we regulate business models as opposed to outcomes, it’ll have a dampening effect on the industry and our hopes for improved transport in Winnipeg.
On March 20, the provincial government introduced the Cannabis Harm Prevention Act in anticipation of the federal government legalizing marijuana. While the legislation updates a number of other acts (such as the Non-Smokers Protection Act), the major focus is clearly on marijuana impaired driving.
We’re pleased the province has identified the safety challenge legalization may present and is taking steps to tackling it. At our recent event When Legalization Comes to Winnipeg, our keynote speaker from Colorado identified roadside testing as a complex, ongoing issue, with difficulty receiving accurate testing depending on the method of marijuana consumption.
This underscores the importance of working with other jurisdictions across North America to develop the technology and procedures to make for accurate testing. Indeed, as legalization approaches, Winnipeg and Manitoba will need to consult with a broad range of experts to make sure our communities make evidence-based decisions to capitalize on the opportunities and mitigate the impacts legalization brings.
We look forward to working with the province, city and our members on this issue.
At a glamorous gala event at Club Regent Event Centre, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce celebrated outstanding organizations who make Winnipeg a better city. Chosen by volunteer judges drawn from the business community, the eight 2017 Spirit of Winnipeg Award recipients embody the ambitious, innovative, caring spirit of our prairie home.
Our deep thanks to the generous sponsors - particularly BDO Canada and Fillmore Riley who are close partners with us in the event. Gratitude as well to the volunteers, Club Regent Event Centre staff and gala audience - without you, the event would not have been possible.
Lastly thank you to all the finalists. It’s true just one nominee received the award, but we hope each of them receive our deep gratitude now. Thank you, finalists, for raising the bar. Thank you for choosing to be excellent. Thank you for embodying the Spirit of Winnipeg.
Nominations for the 2018 Spirit of Winnipeg Awards will open in the fall - to enter your own organization or another that improves our community.
Start-ups looking for technical support have an option in the heart of Winnipeg: a term as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Red River College’s ACE Project Space.
The Space connects RRC’s Business Information Technology (BIT) and Business Technology Managements with entrepreneurs who have real world projects needing IT support. Each project is reviewed by college staff to make sure that it meets the department’s standards, time frame and challenges the students.
“The projects need to fit with the students’ fields of study,” says Haider Al-Saidi, Chair of the Accounting and Computer Education department. “So far we had 16 successful projects and entrepreneurs go through the space.”
ACE encourages start-ups and entrepreneurs to come forward with proposals for projects for students where ACE instructors typically act as the project managers and the advisors for the students. ACE instructors also advise the start-ups on the project itself to make sure the organization has considered the market needs and the impact of the project on the organization.
“Haider and his team are very pleasant to work with,” says Winnipeg Chamber member Sue Leclair, who was Entrepreneur-in-Residence with her business Peguin + Stone. “I have all the respect in the world for their team and what they do and am proud to be able to be a part of it.”
It is a win-win situation where the students will work on quality projects that will have a definite impact on the organization. At the same time the organizations benefits from the relationship developed with ACE instructors and staff who are more than willing to give directions on best practices and on developing a long term business strategy that fosters and encourages innovation.
Benefits to students
Students work on quality projects that will have a definite impact. They work in teams using the latest technologies to create real, innovative, and meaningful projects that they can later showcase to future employers. Students work closely with industry leaders, innovative start-ups, and college instructors to advance their skills in their chosen field.
Benefits to Entrepreneurs-in-Residence
Students know the basics of many technologies from their studies in the BIT and BTM programs including: application development, web development, networking, and database development. BTM students will also have skills in business analysis, design, and management practices. Students are interested, enthusiastic, and engaged workers and are excited to experience developing a real project while working with an equally enthusiastic entrepreneur.
By participating in the ACE Project Space, entrepreneurs and start-ups benefit from the relationship developed with the ACE Department instructors and staff. The ACE team is more than willing to give direction to entrepreneurs on best practices and on developing a long term business strategy that fosters and encourages innovation.
How do I become an Entrepreneur-In-Residence?
Entrepreneurs who best fit the ACE Project Space require a technology related solution that can include analysis, design and creation of a software application. These projects can include:
Students working on projects in the ACE Project Space will be using Agile project management, so entrepreneurs familiar with Agile would be a good fit. Entrepreneurs-In-Residence must be willing to mentor students and encourage them to pursue their own ideas and to become future entrepreneurs.
For more information or to get involved contact the ACE Department at 204-949-8498 and/or attend an open house on March April 7 at The Ace Space on the fifth floor of 321 McDermot Ave.
This article originally published by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
We’ve all been so focused on the renegotiation of NAFTA—the lists of demands (ours and theirs), how long will this drag on for, rules of origin—that maybe we’ve missed a much bigger threat to North American trade. The proposed Border Adjustment Tax might be a bigger problem because it’s more immediate and because the darn thing might actually pass.
Firstly, let’s just call it a ‘border tax’ because it’s a 20% tariff on imports and it exempts exports from corporate income taxes. This is an obvious violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules according to every expert we’ve talked to. In fact, the Peterson Institute for International Economics has calculated that if the U.S. goes ahead with the border tax, U.S. imports would decline by $200 billion, and the WTO could authorize a staggering $370 billion of retaliation by trading partners. So why would Congress and the Trump administration even contemplate such a thing?
The answer is: revenue. House Speaker Ryan is pushing a tax reform package that would reduce corporate tax rates from 35% to 20% and lower the top personal income tax rate from 39% to 25%. All of this could cost $1.8 trillion over 10 years, so the big question is how to pay for it.
The border tax is bad policy, but it’s simply the only conceivable way to raise $1.1 trillion of revenue and pass the tax reform. And it can be pitched as improving competitiveness because it reduces the corporate tax rate to 20% in such a way that imports can no longer be deducted from income—but export revenues are. So, effectively, it acts as a 20% value added tax on imports, a corporate income tax on domestic U.S. production and a subsidy for exports.
Spare a thought for the Republican congressmen from the party of Reagan, for 70 years the proud defenders of free trade now pondering the biggest trade-destroying tax hike since the Smoot-Hawley tariffs of 1930. Understandably, the U.S. business community is split. There’s a group of all the major retailers and importers called Keep America Affordable that vigorously opposes the border tax. They see it as an existential threat because their tax bill on imports would be many times greater than their operating income. On the other side are the large manufacturers in the American Made Coalition that would benefit from a border tax by eliminating foreign competition.
These manufacturers that think they might benefit are mistaken. After a sugar-high of profitability in the first year, they would struggle with lower trade, higher prices and angry consumers. More importantly, consider that Apple uses 172 major suppliers in 40 different countries to produce the iPhone. Apple has the gold standard in global supply chains, which is a tremendous competitive advantage. You can only get the best quality parts at the best prices by going out to the most innovative companies in the world. Withdrawing from those global supply chains in order to avoid a border tax would hurt American competitiveness. And if only European, Canadian and Asian competitors keep global supply chains, they’ll one day eat America’s lunch.
Ultimately, border taxes aren’t paid by big multinationals—it’s consumers and the working class that get hit. Imagine their fury when the price of everything at Walmart goes up 20%: baby clothes, shoes, electronics, cans of tuna. Oh, and gasoline prices would increase 30 cents per gallon.
This is the message that we’ll carry to our allies south of the border. Because they have to know it’s not just bad for foreigners, it’s bad for America.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure spending are on the horizon in Winnipeg’s near future, including a North End Water Treatment Centre, sewer overflow fixes and other projects.
While these projects will provide clear service benefits, how Winnipeg awards contracts and invests in its own economy will likely produce limited benefits to citizens under the current system – one that focuses on “bottom line value” comparisons between bids while leaving out critical long term factors.
For example, suppose several firms were competing to do a $100M road project in Winnipeg and a large U.S. firm’s bid was $400K less than local firms. The way contracts are currently tendered, it will likely go to the American firm and “bottom line value” will say Winnipeggers got the best deal.
If history is any indication, the American firm will use its frequent American design and engineering partners. It’ll pay some taxes, but not at scope of what a Winnipeg firm would pay. Beyond taxation and revenue, its team will exit the perimeter with expanded resumes, transferring knowledge and skills outside the city.
At the end of February, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce sat down with Mayor Brian Bowman and Councillor Scott Gillingham (Finance Chair) to suggest an adjustment on the algorithm used to determine the successful bidder in these projects. That math should include a measure of long term net economic benefit to the city and its citizens as a criteria – a measure that’s missing right now.
“This isn’t about local preference,” says Loren Remillard, President & CEO of The Winnipeg Chamber. “These projects of significant taxpayer investment should produce a net economic benefit to the city and its citizens in the long term.”
How could this work? Even if the project goes to a large foreign firm, net benefit criteria would necessitate hiring a local partner (e.g. engineering or design firms as well as subcontractors), which would strengthen the local business community and see greater tax dollars remain in the city and the province.
This isn’t a buy local for local's sake suggestion and The Winnipeg Chamber believes value for taxpayers' dollars should be the primary concern – it’s how to make sure our judgement of best value reflects a broader view of investment.
“Value for taxpayers remains a cornerstone, as it should. That value definition, however, must include maximum economic return for our collective investments,” says Remillard.
The Winnipeg Chamber will continue the conversations with the Mayor, Councillors Gillingham and Pagtakhan (Council Liaison for Project Management) and key civic administration.
What started as small craft sales and the odd birthday cake to help stay-at-home mom Cori Poon earn some income has morphed into a runaway success. sweet C Bakery is known (and sought after) around the world for their Candy Sushi as well as their chocolate covered Oreos and their glamorous dessert buffets.
We sweet talked Cori into eight quick questions, covering her bakery's rise and why she's an avid supporter of other Winnipeg entrepreneurs.
The Winnipeg Chamber: What’s your favourite treat you make?
Cori Poon: To be honest I love making new treats. It's when I get to be creative and explore new boundaries. I love creating new ideas and new items the bakery world has never seen before. I absolutely love doing anything with fresh fruit - cupcakes, cookies, tarts, anything!!!
WC: Where did the inspiration come from for candy sushi?
CP: It came from my very first dessert table. I met a client looking for something different for her son's Bar Mitzvah. I asked her to give me some time and I would create an amazing inspiration board for what I was thinking. Candy sushi was on it and they fell in love with the idea. So we made platters of it and saw how excited everyone was. Young, old and in between everyone loved this idea. So we decided to market it and sell it at our farmers markets. We had no idea four years later it would be shipped worldwide and sold in stores across North America. I didn't come up with the concept - I'm just the first to market it!
WC: How did you get into the business?
CP: I was a entrepreneur long before sweet C bakery came along. I grew up on a farm six hours north of Winnipeg and my parents didn't have a lot of money. They told us that if we wanted anything we had to work and pay for it ourselves.
So at 12 years old I started selling baking at the local farmers market where my parents sold vegetables and during the summer I would enter baking in the local fair contests and win prize money. This was where my passion always was - little did I know.
Fast forward to 2011 when my husband and I had our first child. It was important to me to be a stay-at-home mom to raise our kids. After my mat leave ended, money got tight. Our debit card was declined for a $7 pillowcase I wanted to buy for my daughter... so sweet C bakery was born. It was literally just a way to help make ends meet. If it paid for some groceries or some bills then perfect, however my parents told me to never settle. Always strive and try and do more.
In 2010 my dad passed away from a three month battle with pancreatic cancer (he had just turned 48), so it showed us life is short. He made us promise him to not live with regrets, so I don't. There is a reason things happen and seize every opportunity. So that is what I do. My mom always told me also: If you think small you'll be small, if you think big you'll be big and I've always thought of sweet C bakery as a global brand. I'm slowly getting there one day at time.
WC: What are your business goals?
CP: My goal for sweet C bakery Inc. to become one of the largest online bakeries in North America. For my wholesale / distribution segment I want us to be recognized on the store shelves and I want sweet C bakery to be a common household product for frozen baked goods. For my storefront division I want it to be a community place. A place where people can meet and talk and have it be like the old days. When times were simple. I want it to be a place where people want to drive across the city because they know they are getting amazing baked treats but also they are getting value and an experience.
WC: When did you start supporting group fundraising?
CP: I started group fundraising when I launched my line of frozen cookie dough. This "local movement" that is happening in our society is so important. People want more locally produced items. They want to know where their food comes from and who made it. What better way to find out also while giving back to the community. I absolutely LOVE doing fundraisers.
WC: You’re a supporter of other Made in Manitoba products – why?
CP: There are so many amazing Manitoba made products that so many people don't know. It's partly because a lot of people shop only at large box stores or niche retailers, etc. I was once a small producer and the moment someone gave me a chance to sell in a store was the moment my business changed. People see you differently - it's hard to explain but it's true. The moment you see that item that once dreamed of, that was once just an idea, sitting on a store shelf is a feeling no one else can give you.
I've been so fortunate to have so many people believe in me that I want to believe in other people. I was given courage and strength and the ability to take on huge risk when I opened up my store - not many people can do that. Not because they don't have courage or strength but because the opportunity or the timing may not be right now. If I can help them bring in a bit more income and grow their business then that is what I want to do.
WC: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome as an entrepreneur?
CP: One I deal with daily: balancing mom life with business life. In the five years I've grown sweet C bakery I've also grown my family. I have three kids under six years old. Ensuring I make as much time with them as a mom and ensuring I don't let the bakery fall as it pays the bills is hard. They have been around it their entire lives so they understand a lot of it and don't argue when we have to do deliveries or I have to take a conference call and I like to think I'm building little budding entrepreneurs. My daughter doesn't play house - she plays business. She has conference calls and does emails, it's amazing.
The second biggest struggle is financing. My husband quit his full-time job two years ago to come on full time with the bakery. So when it came time to lease our space and pay for the contractor it was hard to find lenders that saw the value in two high risk people. Basically what we make as a bakery pays mortgage and stuff for us personally and everything else is recycled back into the bakery so there isn't much wiggle room.
Thankfully Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba and Futurpreneur saw the vision and the growth of sweet C bakery and they believe in us. We will be forever grateful for that as I know it wasn't easy for them to make that decision.
WC: Why do you love what you do?
CP: I'm a mom and a business person. I get to be at home with the kids and go to work. The hardest thing most women find that when they start to have kids is they lose themselves. They lose their identity. They are known as "mom" and not as who they were before.
I have the best of both worlds. I can be a face for society that shows that just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I'm not a good business woman and just because I'm a good business women doesn't mean I'm not a good mom. I get to show people you can live your dreams and if you work hard, you can reap the rewards. Days aren't easy - they are often long and very stressful most days but it is totally worth it.