Tag Archives: Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

Manitoba BOLD: What should Manitoba look like in 10 to 20 years?

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce recently completed a campaign called Manitoba BOLD, which asked Manitobans where they want to see the province in 10 and 20 years respectively, outlining our community’s aspirations for our province.

The campaign started 40 days prior to the recent provincial election, and featured 40 interviews with Manitobans outlining their visions for the province.

Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dave Angus, who will be exiting the position as of July 1, was the final Manitoban to be featured, and outlined his vision for Manitoba. Continue reading Manitoba BOLD: What should Manitoba look like in 10 to 20 years?

Newly launched Small Business Council is a response to needs of business

“What’s next?”

It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves hundreds of times … in strategic planning sessions, around the board table and in discussions around the office and with our members.

Over the past year, we took a “deeper dive,” reaching out to our members and asking what’s next for them, the business community and our community overall, says Chamber President and CEO Dave Angus.

“We learned a lot of things … we got a lot of great intel on new trends, what the business community needs, especially small business, and what we can do to help bolster our community.”
In many ways, the health of our small businesses will help define our overall economic health, Angus says.

“We recognize the importance of these small businesses … that they contribute 50 per cent of our national GDP and close to 80 per cent of all new jobs.”

But small businesses are struggling. They lack the capacity to grow and to manage their growth.

We especially heard how they’re being held back because they don’t have the financial resources and capital to sustain their businesses that they can’t find the people and keep up with the technology to be competitive, that they have difficulty in finding new customers in new markets and they can’t understand the regulations they must work under.

“What we heard from our members is that The Chamber needs to change … to provide access to the resources small businesses need.
“There’s been a lot of progress over my 17 years at The Chamber, but it’s clear there’s much more to be done.”

The Chamber’s next strategic plan is to work with small business to address the barriers they face. A critical component will be the launch of a Small Business Council chaired by Joelle Foster (Futurepreneur) and Ibrahim “Obby” Khan (Shawarma Khan/Green Carrot).

The Small Business Council will be made up of the people behind Winnipeg’s small, medium and emerging businesses. All businesses with under 50 full-time employees that join The Chamber will be welcomed into the Small Business Council.

“One important aspect is that there’s no other organization in Winnipeg that knows more about the issues of small business than The Chamber. We want to be a community asset.”

The Council will host quarterly forums with a focus on educating people, tackling issues facing small businesses, providing expert advice, and providing information from our partners.

“This gathering of small business will provide a platform to connect and network,” said Angus. The Council will also host a conference during Small Business Week in October.

The official launch of the Small Business Council is April 27 from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. at Canad Inns Polo Park. Each quarterly Small Business Council Forum will include an opportunity for businesses to have trade show booths at quarterly Small Business Forums. Visit winnipeg-chamber.com for more details or to RSVP.

Looming Provincial Election Requires Voter Attention

by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

Feeling “election-ed out”? It’s understandable. The 78-day campaign that preceded last month’s federal election was the longest in more than 140 years (in fact, longer than the 2008 and 2011 contests combined).

But before you shift out of election mode, there’s another pivotal campaign on the horizon that demands your attention.

The 41st Manitoba general election to determine the Premier of the province is scheduled to take place on April 19, 2016. That leaves 167 days to hear from candidates on their vision for our province. Looking ahead to the provincial election campaign, The Chamber wants emphasis to be placed on boosting Manitoba’s economy.
“We think the number one priority going into the next election is the economy,” said Dave Angus. “What tone is the next election going to have from all parties? Is it one that’s going to be supportive of business growth? The business focus is on growing industry sectors, innovation, and competitiveness. Are they prepared to put pieces in place to facilitate that and put a priority on job creation?”

On November 17 at our next membership luncheon, Angus sat down in conversation with Conservative provincial candidate Brian Pallister following his own keynote address.

Leading up to the meeting, while remarking on the subject of priorities during the upcoming provincial election, Pallister said, “Manitoba is committed to improving quality of life through furthering the economic, labour market and social inclusion of all Manitobans and growing an innovative economy that benefits all Manitobans by advancing the Province as a thriving place to live, learn, work and invest.”

Pallister added, “We are focused on creating a competitive business climate, based on innovation, developing a skilled labour pool, and red-tape reduction.”

In addition to focusing on the economy, Angus said there are a number of issues facing this provincial government related to mounting debt and the concern is that this will lead to tax increases.
The Chamber addressed the debt issue following the release of the provincial government’s April 2015 budget. At that time, The Chamber’s Executive Vice President Loren Remillard shared concerns that Premier Greg Selinger’s budget decisions pointed to a belief that balancing the books automatically comes at the expense of quality government programs and services.

“Program efficiency and effectiveness are not guaranteed because you spend more,” said Remillard, in an op-ed printed in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 1, 2015. “But on the other hand, innovation and the introduction of lean principles has shown you can produce better outcomes with the same or fewer dollars.”
Another important topic for the candidates is our aboriginal community.

“Aboriginal issues are both our biggest issue and our biggest opportunity all at the same time,” said Angus. “It’s the responsibility of all of us, including the aboriginal community, to define a positive future with an emphasis on education, economic opportunity, and dealing with poverty.”

The Winnipeg Chamber has been active in raising aboriginal issues in our province, writing about Shoal Lake 40 First Nation in the Winnipeg Free Press and co-hosting a sold-out event with the Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce to discuss urban reserves.
“From the business perspective, in many ways our future will be defined by our ability to be able to engage aboriginal people and youth in the economy.”

When asked, provincial candidate Brian Pallister offered his party’s commitment to addressing aboriginal issues, specifically recognizing urban reserves as an important economic development opportunity for First Nations.

“We are supportive of the development of urban reserves,” said Pallister. “In particular with Kapyong Barracks, given the opportunity it represents in the province’s capital, we look forward to all parties finding resolution as soon as possible.”

Manitoba stepped up in last month’s federal election—voter turnout was up in every one of our province’s ridings. Results indicate that 68.81% of eligible Manitobans voted last month, slightly above the national average and the highest voter turnout in our province since 1993.

The Chamber is calling on Manitobans to continue that upward trend.

Between now and Election Day, there are a number of opportunities to hear directly from those who want your vote. We have invited both the leader of the opposition and current premier to speak directly to you—Chamber members—and the broader business community at upcoming events.

In less than month later, Premier Greg Selinger will deliver the annual State of the Province Address on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

“Our role as a chamber is to give political leaders a platform in order to articulate where they want to take the province,” said Angus. “Particularly a platform in front of the business community, so they can create a sense of confidence within the business community that we’re headed to a good place… We think these upcoming opportunities make for the perfect timing for them to send a strong message to business that they are committed to a competitive environment here in Winnipeg. One in which businesses can grow and thrive.”

Small business shouldn’t be the one to suffer under regulations for intellectual property

The local Brick's Fine Furniture received instruction from The Brick to cease and desist using the name, but was able to fight it. Photo by AJ Batac
The local Brick’s Fine Furniture received instruction from The Brick to cease and desist using the name, but was able to fight it. Photo: AJ Batac
Bold Ideas Dorothy Dobbie
Bold Ideas
Dorothy Dobbie

I don’t remember the exact wording, but one day when I was president (now designated “chair”) of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Cynthia and Fred Brick, owners of Brick’s Fine Furniture, showed me a legal letter they had received from The Brick, the furniture box store. It demanded that the Bricks must “immediately cease and desist using the name Brick.”
The Bricks were reeling in shock when they came to talk to me. This was their livelihood, their life, their whole world. It was also their family name and they had been in business for many years, opening in 1969, long before The Brick registered the name (1978) and became an entity operating out of Alberta (eventually creeping across Canada and finally opening a store in Winnipeg). The Bricks were panic-stricken thinking of how to battle this multi-million-dollar giant.
Not long after that, I was elected to Parliament and eventually became parliamentary secretary for Consumer and Corporate Affairs, which was then a separate department. Soon after, another challenge raised its head for a local business. The De Nardi family, who now own Piazza De Nardi, had spent many years developing a brand called Mondo Foods, which they had duly registered in Canada, but not internationally. Suddenly they were threatened by an American competitor who made similar cease and desist demands.
Without going into detail, I raise these two cases as examples of how intellectual property (IP) rights can be turned into a sledge hammer to elbow small business out of the way. We were able to resolve both these cases through hard work and moral suasion, but more often than not, the threatened entrepreneur just folds because he doesn’t have the resources to fight the giants who are coming after him.
Chamber of Commerce fighting to help
Now the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is taking up the cudgel for small business again in calling for reconsideration of changes proposed in the omnibus budget Bill C-31. Among the many provisions of the bill is one that would see the elimination of the declaration of “use” in trademark application forms. Currently the legislation requires that to register a name as a trademark you have to actually use it or at least propose to use it.
(New businesses take note: the fact that you have registered your business provincially does not mean that you have trademark protection even now in another jurisdiction or province – SMART Tab may be protected in Manitoba because it is our trade name here, but that doesn’t stop someone in Alberta from using the same name there. Use and display of a distinctive name does, however, give you an argument in defending yourself from demands from a predatory competitor that you stop using your name.)
The “use” issue is an important, even critical, issue for small business all across Canada from a number of perspectives. Chief among these is that it prevents “trademark trolls” from simply collecting names and registering them in the hope that they will be able to ransom the name from a legitimate user. It focuses the onus of proof on the predator.
The government’s case
The government justifies this change by saying that Bill C-31 provides for two new grounds for opposition: you have to show that as of the filing date, the applicant was not using or did not intend to use the trademark; or that as of the filing date, the applicant was not entitled to use the trademark.
This shifts the onus to those defending themselves against incursion by a trademark troll or a deliberate piracy. It need not be stated that small business will be basically helpless against such an assault.
Canada justifies these changes by saying that they are required to support international trade agreements. There is no evidence to support this contention, however.
Your only defence is a good offence: formally register everything and keep registrations current. It is probably too late to make the government pass amendments to their bill, although you can try lobbying the senate which still has to ratify the bill which was in third reading in the House as this is being written.
Who do the intellectual property rules protect?
This is just one tiny component of the can of worms called “intellectual property.” The laws are always defended by saying that they protect the creators, but this is nonsense: they always protect the manufacturer, marketer or distributor of the property, while the creative genius is most often left behind.
Today, with the Internet offering so much choice and the impossibility of tracking down copiers across the globe, IP is more and more under assault. Not everyone agrees to play by 19th century rules created to protect western interests. Watch for a whole new structure to begin to emerge, one that promotes sharing of ideas (already happening thanks to the ‘net) and results in more rapid progress.
It’s time to be bold and think of a better structure that doesn’t stifle ingenuity and enterprise in the way that the old IP rules ultimately do. There has to be a creative genius in Winnipeg who can come up with an idea to fix this mess.

The future does not belong to us

Students in the Winnipeg Chamber's High School Program met with Mayor Sam Katz to discuss issues for their generation.
Students in the Winnipeg Chamber’s High School Program met with Mayor Sam Katz to discuss issues for their generation.
Dave Angus President and CEO of  the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce
Dave Angus
President and CEO of
the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

They are the ones who must live with the decisions made today.
They are the ones who will be the leaders of tomorrow.
And they are the ones who must be listened to.
Since 2007, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has had a High School Program to hear directly from our next generation.
The program started with a 16-member student council, made up of students in Grades 11 and 12 from Pembina Trails School Division. The first year, the students themselves planned a one-day conference that explored the possibility of a one-stop source of career information and envisioned the type of city in which they’d want to live.
The program has evolved since then. Today, all Winnipeg school divisions, plus several private schools, are part of the High School Program. The objective is to provide the students with the tools, knowledge and connections to become the leaders of tomorrow, to give them a voice, and to let them know how they can make a difference.
This year, students had an opportunity to meet privately with the mayor and premier to discuss issues of concern to their generation – issues such as the legalization of marijuana, fluoride in our tap water, phosphorous lakes, public transit, and what it takes to be a community leader.
“I was really surprised at his (the premier’s) response to our marijuana question, and I really liked the way he answered it. He was so forthright!” said one student from Nelson McIntyre Collegiate.
Another Nelson McIntyre student said: “It was really cool to be listening to Greg Selinger. He gave me an insight on politics that I did not have.”
As our workforce of tomorrow, this year’s students also got to discover careers and opportunities they might never have contemplated – touring such places as Assentworks, a public makerspace with cool people and equally cool equipment; and the Canadian International Grains Institute, where high above Portage and Main, there’s a fully functional pasta-making operation, pilot bakery and lab that analyses Canadian grains, pulses and specialty crops.
They also got a backstage pass to the Fort Garry Hotel, where they saw the historic grandeur and elegance, plus the working guts of a hotel laundry service and kitchen. They visited the Manitoba Museum and met the people who design the exhibits and protect the historical artifacts from the ravages of time.
And coming up, they will be part of The Chamber’s BOLD initiative. Brought together for a full day, the students will learn, discuss and initiate: sharing their BOLD ideas for Making a Better Tomorrow for Young Manitobans.
They’re being encouraged to think outside the box and to tell us the sorts of changes they’d like to see in our city, whether it’s things to do and see, city planning, transportation, the environment, or perhaps social justice.
Their ideas will be incorporated into The Chamber’s BOLD platform, which will pose creative solutions to some of the issues facing our city and will be the basis for discussion with candidates in the October 2014 civic election.
At the BOLD conference, the students will also hear from a legally blind photographer, a potential mayoral candidate and an entrepreneur who appeared on the “Dragon’s Den,” in the hopes these community leaders can inspire, motivate, and show them that anything is possible.
With our next generation, anything is possible! They hold the keys to our future.