Moving from incarceration to freedom is a mental, spiritual and physical challenge. Without supports, it's easy for people to slip back into old habits and return to prison.
The John Howard Society runs a reintegration program to try and lower recidivism, offering support and resources both inside the various provincial and federal institutions in Manitoba as well as to clients in the community. Their work goes beyond restorative justice and literacy programs to tackle the physical needs of people who sometimes restart life with very little.
Last month they received some welcome support from Canadian Footwear's Brian Scharfstein, past Chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, who helped cut the ribbon on the We Fit You Closet - a clothing centre with retail standard displays and design.
John Hutton, Executive Director at the John Howard Society, shared with the audience of staff, partners and community the long-standing support Canadian Footwear has provided the society. For his part Brian shared the deliberate choice of the name for the resource.
"This is the 'We Fit You Closet' because it's not about a company name - it's about providing support and dignity for whoever walks in."
More and more, businesses look to partnership opportunities when determining their charitable and sponsorship goals - and they're asking their employees to help make this decision.
Requests are coming from every direction. Want to sponsor a golf tournament? A gala? An event? A walk? How about a run? Most are creating a positive impact, worthy of your corporate support. Where do you begin?
Times have changed. While brand differentiation was once the primary driver for companies to embrace Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), today, it’s common practice. CSR has evolved from traditional generic “philanthropic giving” to a more strategic focus of effort related to business objectives - with a focus on impact. Forward thinking companies have become more strategic in their use of “CSR”, creating competitive, innovative, and profitable opportunities.
Engaging your employees in the selection of your corporate charitable values and the selection of your charities is a positive team building effort. Your team is given the opportunity to share their community interests and passions and incorporate them into their work environment. This type of employee engagement not only helps you to determine your company’s philanthropic and sponsorship priorities but also helps you to encourage employees’ engagement with the charity as a personal donor, an event fundraiser or volunteer opportunities like potential board or committee involvement. It also helps to ensure that you as a team outline your expectations for the charity in the partnership. Your employees will come to expect accountability from the charity like impact reporting, and meaningful engagement like tours, updates, educational opportunities or group volunteer opportunities.
With a proper strategic and team approach to your charitable giving, the impact of your support will be stronger – for your business and your community.
In 2015, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce conducted a State of the Business Community survey where two-thirds of the respondents cited “significant challenges with finding growth capital.” In late 2016, we followed up that empirical research with a qualitative approach: members of the community were asked to describe some of their experiences in detail. The results were eye-opening but not surprising.
There is an overwhelming need for professionally-managed funds in Manitoba with predictable investment criteria for growing businesses. Currently, there is no capacity to access local pooled funds (e.g. venture capital) mandated to invest in private deals. The lack of Manitoba-based options is creating a brain drain resulting in some organizations being drawn out of the province. While angel money is available for some opportunities, serious funding gaps at the early, venture, and expansion stages remain.
What about government programs that give incentives to individual investors? There is a Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit available to Manitobans investing in pre-qualified companies. The following response sums up the experience of one serial angel investor:
“SBVCTC has worked well for founder and Seed A rounds… horrible beyond that. Biggest difficulty is the $3-7M range; we are lacking local options. There is no one managing and/or leading that size of deal in Manitoba. A lot of the smaller investors ($250K-$1M) are all looking for a lead investor.”
Interestingly, individual investors indicated a strong desire to have professionally-managed funds available to address various stages of growth (i.e. post-angel investment). Furthermore, experienced entrepreneurs preferred pools of capital that are funded by institutional and/or corporate investors. As opposed to pools funded by retail investors, institutional and corporate investors are perceived to have more patience with the funds’ mandate, a better understanding of risk, and an ability to transact quickly, if necessary.
In general, our research indicates that:
Extra-jurisdictional VCs have lately been looking for a quick path to exit and shorter 3-5 year investment cycles. They are getting pressure from their own investors to generate returns. We need locally-managed funds to make meaningful investments with longer investment horizons.
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has been working to inform the Government of Manitoba as to the current market conditions and the need for an environment that will support the pooling of institutional capital to be deployed to support local innovation and economic growth. Stay tuned.
What does Winnipeg mean to you?
What excites you about what you do?
What do people need to know to understand who you are?
For more information on our Spirit Award finalists and to buy tickets, click here.
What does Winnipeg mean to you?
What excites you about what you do?
What do you credit with your success?
For more information on our Spirit Award finalists and to buy tickets, click here.
But this differentiator is actually worthy of celebration, and that’s the point Mayor Bowman and I made recently when we announced Winnipeg is now an accredited member-city of the World Winter Cities Association for Mayors (WWCAM), a network of over 20 northern cities worldwide dedicated to promoting winter technologies and experiences. We both believe that ramping up collaborations with leaders and organizations living and working in other winter cities will bolster Winnipeg’s reputation as an exciting winter wonderland with a leading cold-weather economy.
Winnipeg’s winter identity has experienced a welcome transformation of late, thanks in part to high-profile attractions validating Winnipeg’s wintry allure in ways that have persuaded locals and visitors alike to brave the elements and experience the best our city offers when blanketed with snow. The Forks is a case in point. Winnipeg’s No. 1 tourist spot attracts more than 4 million visitors annually, and over the last five years its winter weekend numbers have rivalled peak counts in July and August. Whether gliding along the Red River Mutual Trail, exploring the Arctic Glacier Winter Park or enjoying a meal at RAW: almond (for those quick enough to snag tickets to this perpetually sold-out pop-up restaurant), there’s an abundance of activities for winter enthusiasts at Winnipeg’s oldest meeting place.
But The Forks is just one of many attractions capitalizing on Winnipeg’s cool climate. The Festival du Voyageur is set to usher in its 48th edition of Western Canada’s largest winter festival from Feb. 17-26, featuring perennial favourites like canoe races, chainsaw carving and toboggan runs, while welcoming over 150 bands this year—which also makes it the biggest francophone music festival in Western Canada. Assiniboine Park Zoo’s award-winning Journey to Churchill, part of the park’s $200-million Imagine a Place redevelopment, immerses visitors in the world’s most comprehensive northern species exhibit. And FortWhyte Alive’s 640-acre urban nature reserve also attracts attention in the colder months, with its Lake Shaker winter party, moonlight snowshoe treks and free ice-fishing weekends.
Winnipeg’s winter-themed recreation options compare favourably to activities available during the city’s milder months, but they comprise only a small part of the much bigger cold-weather picture. Winnipeg has evolved in fascinating ways since its incorporation as a city on November 8, 1873, but there’s no need to examine the historical record to see how winter weather has positively impacted its economic well-being. Modern-day evidence is plain to see, and it forms a portrait whose key features owe much to the lower end of Winnipeg’s famed 60-degree annual temperature swings.
A partnership between GE and StandardAero resulted in the opening of the $50-million GE Aviation Test Research and Development Centre (TRDC) in early 2012 at Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport. The 122,500-square-foot TRDC is the only cold-weather engine-testing facility for GE, which performs icing certification testing on a variety of its jet engines—including GE’s LEAP (Leading-Edge Aviation Propulsion) series of engines used in Boeing’s 737 Max, the fastest-selling passenger jet in the company’s history. Did you know Boeing’s Winnipeg facility makes this aircraft’s innovative inner barrel, which reduces operational noise by as much as 50 per cent? So successful has the GE-StandardAero collaboration been that GE is set to begin a $26-million upgrade to the TRDC this year that is expected to expand its capabilities from cold-weather certifications to a wider range of tests that can be performed year-round.
Other iconic local companies, MTS and New Flyer Industries, for example, also benefit from Winnipeg’s winter weather. The former’s $50-million data centre on Waverly Street is a purpose-built 64,000-square-foot facility offering co-location, managed hosting and cloud services. Row upon row of servers must be kept at a consistent temperature to guard against overheating. Cooling these machines in a cold climate like Winnipeg reduces operating expenses even more in an already ultracompetitive city when it comes to energy costs relative to other North American locales.
A big temperature change from one day to the next means New Flyer technicians can monitor how the humidity created from such extremes affects electrical systems. And finally, Winnipeg’s abundance of snow and wind throughout the coldest months contributes to what results in a perfect (winter) storm routinely meeting New Flyer’s needs.
While GE, MTS and New Flyer exemplify companies investing here because our cold weather directly benefits certain operational aspects, Winnipeg’s winter-city reality invites an entirely different yet equally innovative economic angle: how do we survive and thrive in a place where the temperature once dipped to a mercifully infrequent record low of -47.8 C in 1879? Perhaps the most obvious answer is that our buildings—residential, commercial and industrial—must be built to withstand the ravages such extreme temperatures threaten. From insulation and HVAC issues to vapour barriers and weatherproofed windows, accommodating Winnipeg winters requires a level of expertise that gives local companies in the industry a competitive advantage.
Beyond construction advancements best evidenced in buildings like the Platinum LEED-certified Manitoba Hydro Place, with its geothermal heating, biodynamic double façade and solar chimney (among other ingenious features), Winnipeg has fostered an array of creative solutions allowing it to function as efficiently as possible regardless of prevailing conditions. How the city builds and repairs roads, provides water and waste management, ensures reliable sources of energy and moves people from place to place all coalesce in ways that make living and working in Winnipeg more pleasant and prosperous.
So why does this matter in the bigger scheme of things? It matters because this kind of expertise is easily exportable and could garner big economic dividends. For cities wrestling with winters like Winnipeg, and for places experiencing irregular spikes in cold weather for which they are ill-equipped, the products we’ve perfected and the best practices we’ve established make us a winter-living leader. What’s commonplace for Winnipeggers is anything but for places not as accustomed to the effects of bone-chilling cold. Admit it: don’t we secretly get a kick out of it when other North American cities issue “severe weather warnings” on days when the temperature might dip to (a comparatively balmy for us) -10 C or so? Amateurs.
But that’s the point—knowing things other places don’t about coping with the cold—and that’s why Winnipeg is poised to make inroads as a higher-profile winter city in the years ahead thanks to its WWCAM membership, which is expected to expose the city to a wider audience with a vested interest in studying our winter assets. WWCAM conferences are held every two years, and host cities can also concurrently present a winter expo for business and industry as well as a winter forum for researchers and academics, which have significantly increased the scale and impact of the association’s activities. Look for Winnipeg to host this conference in the coming years. It’s time our city accesses this influential network.
Elevating Winnipeg’s status as a winter city with proven solutions to cold-weather challenges could lead to both foreseen and serendipitous economic windfalls. We’re already enjoying various business- and recreation-based dividends that an increased focus on winter living has yielded, but we should step up our game by connecting local ingenuity with prospective external markets craving improved subzero strategies. Part of being a smart city is knowing how to monetize what we do best, then promoting this value proposition to global audiences. The more we do that, the more we’ll see Winnipeg appear on the potentially lucrative short list of intelligent cities that own winter like nowhere else in the world.
President & CEO
Economic Development Winnipeg Inc.
Organizations are becoming more aware of the wellbeing of their employees. One Winnipeg-based company embracing this movement is Johnston Group. Matt Johnston of Johnston Group took some time to tell us how they’re not only one of the largest providers of group insurance in the entire country, but they also focus on the positive experience of their clients and employees.
1. Why do you think corporate wellness is important to the operation of a modern business?
There are countless statistics tying overall wellness to imporved culture, productivity, reduced absenteeism, presenteeism, even to a reduction in disability. These are good business reasons to engage in corporate wellness. Business owners have a tremendous opportunity to help their employees recognize the value of embracing a healthier lifestyle. Employees are the most important asset of any business; we feel we have a responsibility to assure their wellbeing.
2. How did an employee benefits company like Johnston Group get interested in corporate wellness?
Wellness is a hot topic of conversation in our industry and we are seeing a lot of interest from our employees and our member companies. Alarming health statistics point to the importance of investing in the preventative side of employee health. For example, the Conference Board of Health estimates that 80% of type 2 diabetes and heart disease cases and 40% of cancer cases are linked to lifestyle behaviors that can be avoided. These are incredibly high statistics, to which we want to raise awareness. This is a big conversation and wellness is just a piece of it, but we are passionate about being a part of finding solutions.
3. Last week on our BOLD radio show you shared that your first career in sports has influenced your view on the importance of wellness in the workplace.
Through my golf career I was able to see first-hand the type of support systems professional athletes have in place to give themselves the best chance to succeed in their careers - coaches, nutritionists, mental coaches, even financial help. And in my case, that was so I could get a golf ball in a hole! When I moved over to the business world, where most people are solving real problems, I was surprised to see the lack of wellness support available to most employees. Business is not an intramural sport – it’s highly competitive and the outcomes matter. Companies, and the employees in them are solving real world problems, and in the end, supporting families. So we think it’s important to continue to discover and develop new ways to invest in the wellness of those employees.
4. Do you think ‘wellness’ is a trend or is it here to stay?
Although wellness has become a current buzzword, we certainly don’t think it’s just a trend. We are all hearing about the new demands “Millennials” (I am one) are bringing to the workforce. We think it’s encouraging that this younger generation is helping to create more awareness around topics like wellness. With that said, we have five generation in our office that are all contributing to this conversation.
We are being mindful of the fact that wellness is a broad term and means different things to different people. I think the stories of the progressive workplaces like Google and Facebook have created a misinterpretation for some people that great wellness programs mean beanbags and free Kombucha. Although these are nice perks, they alone are not a wellness solution. As we develop our internal programs at Johnston Group we think it’s important to take a holistic approach, focusing on the whole health of a person, including the support of the emotional, mental and even spiritual health of our employees. With approximately two-thirds of disability claims in Canada related to mental illness and addiction, we believe we need the focus to evolve from the traditional boundaries of just looking at physical health to a broader definition of wellness. It is an enormous field and there are no quick, easy fixes. Whatever we label it moving forward – “wellness”, “prevention”, “engagement”, we are just scratching the surface of this discussion.
5. What company do you see as the model for wellness?
There are many companies doing great things, although it’s important to remember that no organization is perfect. Businesses are made of people and we are complex! I worked in the startup ecosystem of Silicon Valley for a few years, so many of my friends were working at companies like Google and Dropbox. These companies put a lot of thought into wellness, offering everything from free healthy food to mindfulness rooms, and even free access to life and business coaches. Although some of the perks seem a little over the top and are part of the Silicon Valley folklore (scooters in the office might not make it as a requirement for a wellness initiative), it was interesting and inspiring to see how thoughtful some of these companies are in their approach.
I am fascinated by a manufacturing company based in St. Louis called Barry Wehmiller. They have created a leadership institute around a philosophy called ‘Truly Human Leadership’. One of their recent blogs said, “As Truly Human Leaders, it is our responsibility not only to be stewards of the lives entrusted to us every day, but also to support each team member’s wellbeing and that of those they love.” As our team begins down this road, we think that’s a pretty inspiring ideal to try to uphold.
For more information on Johnston Group and their services, visit http://johnstongroup.ca/ or connect on Facebook.
On January 17, Manitoba Race to Reduce officially launched and Manitoba’s businesses are now racing to reduce their energy use by at least 10% over the next 4 years.
Manitoba Race to Reduce represents unprecedented collaboration within Manitoba’s Business community. The Race is aimed at providing businesses with the tools and resources needed to encourage smart energy use within their buildings.
What would it look like if ALL Winnipeg office buildings reduced their energy?
A 10% reduction in energy use across ALL office buildings in Manitoba could mean...
Which building owners have signed up?
So far over 6 million square feet of commercial office space - equal to 5,000 residential homes - have committed to the race. The initial goal was to get 3 million square feet confirmed before launching the race and that was quickly surpassed with Manitoba businesses quickly getting on board.
A few well-known buildings in the race include:
Who can join the race?
Any commercial office building in Manitoba with 30,000 square feet or more can join.
What’s the incentive to join?
Manitoba Race to Reduce will be tracking the results through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® and every year will give awards to the building owners, tenants and staff who lead the race. Most businesses and tenants have businesses goals that include being better environmental stewards, so joining Manitoba Race to Reduce is one way to accomplish that goal. They can also save hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy.
How can employees contribute to make a difference?
If you are a landlord or tenant wanting to learn more, contact Manitoba Race to Reduce at email@example.com or check out www.manitobaracetoreduce.ca to register today.
Manitoba’s economy continues to out-perform its prairie neighbours, but we need to continually improve conditions for a competitive, diversified, and resilient economy which provides a high quality of life to all Manitobans
ECONOMIC CONTEXT | Manitoba still strongest economy in prairies
Weaker global performance is keeping expectations modest for the Canadian economy. Infrastructure spending programs have improved prospects in some provinces, including Manitoba, but the Chamber continues to monitor the deficit position and acknowledges that stimulus spending is at best a short-term rather than long-term strategy.
With a strong and diversified economy, Manitoba’s economy is presently out-performing its prairie counterparts. As oil-producing regions see declines in job and GDP numbers, Manitoba remains steady. The Conference Board of Canada suggests that only Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia will see job gains in 2017.
Although the province’s goods-producing industries are generally healthy, there have been a few disruptions, particularly to vulnerable northern industries. Heavy rain and flooding have weakened the outlook for agriculture, and gains in mining are offset by a slump in oil and gas. Manufacturing is expected to advance by 2.4 per cent and construction by 0.9 per cent; the latter fuelled by large Hydro and infrastructure projects, including Winnipeg’s True North Square and Southwest Transitway. Manitoba is expected to see increases in goods consumption due to the addition of new jobs to the economy in 2017.
We focused our comments to four priority areas:
1. Establish a tax commission to improve the tax system
Manitoba’s tax system has been without a comprehensive review for 16 years. We recommend the development of a commission to establish a streamlined tax system, including matching federal-provincial exemptions for individuals, raised exemptions for small businesses, and the elimination of the payroll tax. This recommendation is particularly timely in light of a proposed price on carbon, as it will impact other government cash transfers.
Since 1999, the provincial government has experienced continued increases in revenue due to a combination of increased taxation (including a rise in the PST) as well as increased revenues from the federal government though transfer payments and equalization. Repeated budgets have shown that the provincial government has not shown a focus on reducing expenditures.
2. Enable better access to capital and labour
From a regulatory perspective, we recommend participation in a coordinated federal regulatory commission. From a budgetary perspective, we recommend that the government develop an “access to capital” strategy that identifies all stages of capital financing, current capital availability, and local gaps along the entire capital continuum (idea, incubator, angels, venture capital). We also recommend increasing funding to incubators for prototyping and beta testing, and a clear delineation between commercialization and innovation or research.
To complement the earlier recommendation in social enterprise training, engage education leaders in a comprehensive review of Manitoba’s education outcomes to ensure they are in line with the needs of industry. This includes a need to improve outcomes in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education (reading, math and science skills), as well as college and trades-oriented schools. In addition, we recommend re-examining ways of re-opening the “employer direct” initiative of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, which allowed employers to directly nominate individuals for permanent residency.
3. Outline your plan to reduce the deficit
While Manitoba’s provincial debt remains the 4th lowest in Canada for 2015-16 (at 1.3% of GDP) according to RBC Economics Research, its expenses are somewhat higher relative to other provinces. Manitoba can improve its credit rating and economic outlook by outlining a plan to get the deficit under control, partly by creating a culture in the public sector that inspires and rewards employees for finding efficiencies.
Manitoba’s credit rating was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s partly because Manitoba is expected to have a sustained debt burden over the long-term. With a year-end deficit for 2016 of over $1 billion, the government must signal to the investment community that we are ready to improve our fiscal position.
4. Improve value for money in government services
Manitobans consistently expect better value-for-money from our government while balancing demands for improved social outcomes and service delivery. While the Chamber appreciates that a value-for-money audit has been undertaken, we also hope the government explores unique opportunities to innovate service delivery models, including social investment strategies.
In addition to independent recommendations, we suggest tying provincial collective agreement compensation adjustments to the average weekly earnings and CPI for Manitoba. Broadly speaking, we also encourage the government to seek opportunities for modern technology and procedures to enhance both service and communication to citizens.
We also recommend that the government consider the February 2015 Manitoba Social Enterprise Strategy, which may multiply the impact of dollars spent in the private (or “third”) sector which would otherwise be spent directly on government services.
Finally, there may be an opportunity to significantly reduce the bureaucratic costs associated with the delivery of cash benefits while simultaneously improving social outcomes. We recommend that the province consider the creation of a basic income pilot project in 2017 that would improve social outcomes, workforce participation rates, and administrative efficiency.
By improving our tax system, improving our pools of labour and capital, seeking better value-for-money in government services, and outlining a plan to improve our fiscal position, the Chamber believes that we can improve the wellbeing of all Manitobans for generations to come. These measures can create not just a more desirable investment climate, but it positions our city and province as a desirable and dynamic place to live.
When you jump aboard a party bus at 8 a.m., you know it's going to be a great day.
The January session of the Leadership Winnipeg Program included a closer look at Winnipeg's Social Enterprise Centre and Urban Training Circle. However, participants needed a way to get there. Cue the Bada Bing Party Bus!
Here's a look at how our Leadership Winnipeg participants spent the day:
For over a decade, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and Volunteer Manitoba have partnered together to offer Leadership Winnipeg, a 10-session leadership program (plus class project), which runs from September through June. The program provides experiences that inspire and help individuals to develop an understanding of themselves, their community and their role within it.
Click here for more info.