President & CEO's Message

A Message from Dayna Spiring (August 2016)

Winnipeg Needs You to Be an Ambassador 

An unflattering portrayal of Winnipeg was revealed last week in a Mainstreet/Postmedia poll, which surveyed a relatively small sampling of Canadians and concludes that our city is perceived to be the most unsafe of 15 metros examined. Although many respondents have never been here to experience our great city personally, they consider it unsafe based on things they’ve heard or stories they’ve read. Thankfully, this perception doesn’t equate with reality. The facts are that Winnipeg is actually in the middle of the pack when crime statistics are compared. But whichever side of this perception-versus-reality divide you find yourself on, one thing is clear: Winnipeg has work to do when it comes to promoting itself across the country, and each of us has a role to play.  

Economic development is a collaborative pursuit, and Winnipeg’s reputation among future visitors and potential investors is integral to capitalizing on the positive momentum experienced over the last few years. However, investors are individuals first, and their impressions of Winnipeg are framed by a host of sources and contributing factors, just as mine and yours are. Ultimately, each of us has our own Winnipeg story, but each of us has the power to influence others’ stories for better or for worse. I am a passionate Winnipegger. More than ever, I believe the time has come for other proud Winnipeggers to join me in making their voices heard by telling Winnipeg’s story in the more favourable light it deserves—and, more importantly, has earned.   

Think about the choices we make every day: where to eat, where to shop, what movies to watch, what car to drive, what smartphone to buy. Hundreds of big and small decisions define our lives, and the criteria (real and perceived) upon which each of these judgments is based can be almost as varied as the decisions themselves. You might do some research on the Internet. You may just trust your gut. Or you could decide to rely on someone you trust. That last one is the reason I recently asked my team at Economic Development Winnipeg (EDW) to create MyWinnipeg.ca.

Companies looking to invest in or expand their operations can choose from a dizzying array of location-related options. Admittedly, multiple factors conspire to narrow the field of feasible cities for every company (e.g., electricity requirements, building specs, labour costs, available workforce, access to markets), but usually, after everything is considered, companies are still left with a laundry list to choose from.

Most times, it’s not simply facts and figures that determine where a company will invest. These obvious considerations are typically augmented by intangibles that don’t always translate well onto an Excel spreadsheet. Call it the ‘secret sauce’ that makes a preferred selection so much more appetizing. But what good is a secret sauce if you actually want those looking to relocate or expand to deconstruct the reasons why a place either works well or doesn’t?

Failing to expose less overt advantages is counterproductive to securing investment and fostering economic growth. Instead, we must celebrate our city’s most attractive features and brag about our accomplishments. We must collectively convey what makes this city so special.

When it comes to promoting Winnipeg, there can never be too many cooks in the kitchen; however, espousing a consistent message means sourcing information from the same playbook. Just as successful sports franchises convince their athletes to work together to execute well-defined plays, and thriving businesses expect their employees to collaborate to accomplish organizational objectives, we must work as a team to promote our city.

MyWinnipeg.ca is a first step. As the premier agency responsible for securing investment across all aspects of our economy, EDW’s job is to lead this charge. I believe you’ll come to learn my team is very good at its job, but we can’t win on our own. EDW’s efforts won’t achieve maximum impact without you. Winnipeg’s unique value proposition must be communicated broadly to potential investors across our country and around the globe. To do that, we need ambassadors.                          

Routinely updated to ensure relevance, MyWinnipeg.ca is a tool you can use to help spread the message about what it’s really like to live, work and invest here in Winnipeg. It highlights only the most consequential investments, articles, events, itineraries and eateries creating a buzz right now. Our city deserves passionate advocates, and I’m asking you to play a part. Whether you’re serving as a local host or travelling the country on business, talk about our city’s achievements. Let people know Winnipeg is an incredible place that’s open for business.

At MyWinnipeg.ca, you’ll find succinct summaries of the city’s biggest projects currently making local and national headlines, including the $400-million True North Square project, the $597-million bus rapid transit expansion and the proposed $500-million Bishop Grandin Crossing mixed-use development. Looking to wine and dine out-of-town guests? MyWinnipeg.ca has superb suggestions ranging from Enoteca and Pizzeria Gusto to Deer + Almond and the Capital Bar and Grill, all of which are carefully curated by our own ‘master chef,’ the writer of our Peg City Grub blog.

You’ll discover a link to Winnipeg’s springtime profile in The Globe and Mail. We’re also a city lauded as a best trip of 2016 in National Geographic Traveler. Explore MyWinnipeg.ca for these and other gems, then join us in celebrating our city. If enough of us familiarize ourselves with MyWinnipeg.ca and do what we can to share its latest news, I’m confident we’ll move the proverbial needle in a meaningful way.

We need to get on the same page when it comes to extolling our city’s virtues. I realize some tiresome cynics like to magnify Winnipeg’s challenges—last week’s poll is a case in point—but I believe there’s a better approach. Our city’s proudest champions can serve as a beacon for visitors coming to Winnipeg to experience what we have to offer and for investors looking for a stable yet innovative economy brimming with an intelligent and engaged workforce. Together, we can influence perception. Our weather and our mosquitos aren’t unique and don’t define us; we do. Winnipeg’s narrative is ours to write, and it’s singular, fascinating and deserving. I invite the silent majority who love this city as much as I do to start telling their story. I want you to be an ambassador.

Let’s all say “YES!” to Winnipeg and see what happens.

Sincerely,

Dayna Spiring
President & CEO
Economic Development Winnipeg Inc.