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City must go downtown or downhill

By Stefano Grande

In a city as diverse as ours, downtown truly matters. It’s full of activity, welcomes people of all backgrounds and is the economic engine of our city. With continued strategic investment and attention, it will once again be the pride of Winnipeggers.
The success of our entire province rests on this understanding. And there are many partners and stakeholders who are committed to this goal.
So, it’s important to ask: after years of progress, how healthy is our downtown today?
Trends suggest the downtown’s health has improved significantly over the last several years. This newfound health, however, is as fragile as it is encouraging – and it needs continued and sustained commitment from the public to nurture it.
A pledge of funding from the province’s Winnipeg Regeneration Strategy and continued use of tax-increment financing will help the area become a vibrant neighbourhood. Rapid transit and policies that provide a more sustainable alternative to urban sprawl are also desperately needed, because they help to direct market forces and development inwards. These are but some of the broad conclusions formed at the Health of the Downtown Summit, an assembly convened by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and its partners.
Some of the city’s most influential urban minds gathered to not only celebrate current and emerging downtown successes, but to discuss our downtown’s future. Some of their recommendations were presented to the candidates of this year’s mayoral election. Continue reading

The Big Horns

Enhance your university experience by joining a student group

By Sarah Pruys, UM Today

Being a new student on campus can mean feeling a little disconnected. But making connections becomes easy when you find a group of people who share similar interests.
With over 140 student groups at the University of Manitoba campus, there is truly something for every student. Groups span a variety of activities: academics, culture, politics and hobbies. And if you don’t find something you like, you can always start your own.
“The student groups are the backbone of this school and are all so amazing,” says Daria Lukie, vice president of Student Services. “They are so active and put on events all the time with little to no money, and they do it out of the love of their hearts as volunteers.”
Lukie says some of the more popular groups include The Big Horns, UMSwing, the Greek sororities and fraternities, the Indian Students’ Association, the Pakistan Students’ Association, the Muslim Students’ Association, and Segue (a Christian faith-based group).
One of the newer (and louder) groups on campus is The Big Horns, a group devoted to increasing campus spirit.
Kevin Oliver, treasurer of the group, says, “We help students find a sense of belonging at the U of M through participation in on-campus events, facilitation of friendships, and role modelling of positive and supportive behaviour. The biggest reason to get involved with The Big Horns is that it gives you a chance to connect with other students here at the U of M, to build lasting friendships, and to get behind something that’s bigger than just a few people.”
In addition to this, joining a group will help you gain new skills and will show you were actively involved in student life on your resume. Continue reading

Sachit

Growing up Mehra

East India Company, a downtown Winnipeg institution, has borne witness to its fair share of evolution over the years.
The 349 York Ave. location opened in 1993, but the restaurant business has been in the Mehra family’s fabric since the late ‘60s, seeing four generations assist with day-to-day operations.
Sachit Mehra has worked for the family business since he was 17, and quite literally grew up in front of many of the restaurant’s regular clientele – catching a lot of their milestones, as well.
“I’m now at the point where I’ve seen people meet, court, get married and have kids,” he says.
“I love meeting the people (and) seeing them again and again.”
Showing a knack for customer service early, Mehra was recognized as Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Asia Pacific Foundation when he was just 19.
As a current owner/manager of the acclaimed restaurant, and past chair of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, Mehra has become a bit of a local icon himself, allowing conversation to flow with customers and neighbours on topics as deep as downtown revitalization and community engagement – at the restaurant, at his son’s football games, and well, everywhere.
It was these types of interactions that influenced Mehra to consider a new venture and, perhaps, a new legacy for the Mehra family: “If my email inbox gets flooded with garbage concerns, something’s going on,” he explains.
Mehra is running for city council in St. Norbert this month.
If elected, it would be the end of his 21-year tenure at the East India Company. Continue reading

Jonathan and Hannah

Here for a good time, not a long time

By Brenlee Coates

Most people outgrow their hometowns before they go international. But for Jonathan Seah, of Chook Clothing Co., online sales have been steady internationally since he got started – it’s Winnipeg that needs to catch up.
That’s why he jumped at the chance to set up a local brick-and-mortar shop, even if it’s only temporary. Chook Clothing Co. (pronounced like “shook”) is now the second pop-up shop rolled out by the Pop Up Shop Hop (PUSH) program through CentreVenture Development Corp.
The month-long time frame didn’t keep Seah from making 438 Graham Ave. look like Chook’s forever home.
Wanting to welcome the skateboard community, he decided to put a skateboard ramp in the shop for demos and for people to come in and mess around on.
But the ramp couldn’t fit into the store without an expensive window removal, so he opted to dismantle it and put it together piece by piece, even hiring a welder to restore a rail he had to slice open. Continue reading

Gimli by Art Pear

Don’t get lost in a sea of wacky wavers

Socially Smart - Jon Waldman
Socially Smart – Jon Waldman

As I sit and enjoy a comfortable late summer day in Winnipeg, my mind tends not to focus on one particular aspect of the marketing world, but instead looks to a few different facets of doing business – both individually and as a company – in Winnipeg.
So with a firm eye to quick hits, here are a few random thoughts on promotion in Winnipeg.
What’s the next wave?
It’s hard to avoid seeing inflatable wacky wavers outside of businesses in Winnipeg these days. What started as a trend about a decade ago continues today, albeit not with the same fervor that it once had.
After seeing a couple of these wavers, you start to become immune to their uniqueness, the central problem that happens whenever you’re looking to do something unique in advertising and promotion.
Take, for example, ad board spinners. This has practically been a trademark of Little Caesars Pizza – having teens stand on street corners holding signs advertising $5 pizzas.
While the method has been used in the past for everything from car washes to charitable events, the Detroit-headquartered fast food pizzeria perfected the concept.
Today, board spinners can be spotted across our city, advertising anything and everything, sometimes even in beagle costumes.
It leads me to think what will be next. The idea of motion to spur eyesight is far from a new concept in advertising and it’s ultimately very effective; but like any other trend, one has to be wary of jumping on a trend. Instead, look at blazing a new trail.
Simplicity of outdoor movies
While the historic Winnipeg drive-in theatre is a thing of the past, the pull to watch movies outdoors hasn’t slowed.
In August, hundreds of Winnipeggers took to Assiniboine Park to watch shows under the stars, and a month prior, the Gimli Film Festival once again showed movies on the beach (albeit not Jaws this year). It’s not surprising, given how few optimal condition days we actually have of warm weather and low mosquito counts.
What interested me was how much corporate and volunteer support went into these events. I’ve talked about community efforts in the past in this column, but this was an unexpectedly great show of spirit around simple, free events, and ones that will continue to run for years to come.
Event-driven marketing
I haven’t touched on this one yet in printed space, but there may be nothing that sells product more than a well-produced event.
Over the summer, a friend of mine held a signing session for her newly produced cookbook. She sold enough books at the one-off event to land on a local retailer’s best seller list at number one.
It seems, at times, we forget about how strong events can be for generating business and job opportunities. We’ll take advantage of networking opportunities the minute they’re presented to us, but to have a day like an open house or a public product launch seems to quickly be becoming less appealing, perhaps because of the labour hours involved.
It’s something that should be explored more often, and I’ll talk more about this in a future column, but with fall (sadly) upon us, now’s the time to start thinking about hosting or attending these events.
And if you’re a job seeker, this is your opportunity to get in front of a couple key people in a business, take a quick moment of their time to introduce yourself, and make a plan for a follow-up call. The day will be busy but you’ll start to put yourself ahead of the pack.
Enjoy the rest of the summer!
Jon Waldman is a marketing strategist with Cohesive Marketing. To learn more about the services the company offers, call 204-992-6400 or visit http://www.cohesive.ca.

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