For weeks, I have been working with all three levels of government and the private sector to get a better sense of what Winnipeg companies need now to keep the pilot light on for our economy. Once the restrictions are finally lifted, we have to have plans in place so that we can fire up our economy again.
Our YES! Winnipeg team has already reached out to more than 200 companies across all sectors to better understand companies’ situations, identify opportunities for them, share best practices and offer support where we can. Our Tourism Winnipeg team is doing the same thing while promoting businesses that have shifted their services online. We have created tourism resource pages and a COVID-19 toolkit for businesses. We have also reallocated our YW team to help medium to large companies navigate new federal programs meant to support them during this shutdown.
Listening and hearing what business needs now has shaped all of our efforts to date and what we will need to do in the future. That’s why it was important for EDW to join forces with City of Winnipeg, Mayor Brian Bowman, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Winnipeg BIZ for its recent webinar about the mayor’s COVID-19 Business Task Force.
The task force, which started a few weeks ago, is about industry, private sector and government coming together to solve pressing concerns for business. From industry titans to restauranteurs, retail and hotels, to companies in manufacturing, financial services, and tech, the task force is meant to tackle immediate issues and cut down the time it takes to get answers and solutions for business.
The webinar had more than 200 participants. Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce board chair, Jessica Dumas and Downtown Winnipeg BIZ CEO, Kate Fenske hosted, while Mayor Bowman and I were panelists. We fielded questions from participants who shared their concerns around:
- What steps the city has taken to support our business community, including the deferral of business and property taxes, changes to loading zones for businesses, and residential parking for those working from home.
- How EDW was supporting tourism attractions and events now through promotion and developing a strategy for recovery in the future.
- What additional supports would be needed for business from the municipal, federal and provincial levels.
- Success stories of Winnipeg businesses building new technologies or infrastructure to help in the pandemic fight.
“All three levels of government are doing the best they can and there have been some real successes each can point to. What I think the business community would want to see is that nimbleness and the innovation that we’re seeing from all levels of government continue well beyond the pandemic and that’s something I’m committed to doing,” Mayor Bowman said during the webinar.
Not all of the questions could be answered during the hour-long webinar, but they will be answered and posted on the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce website, shortly. If you would like to see the entire webinar, you can watch it below.
We will continue to have these conversations and are working on a strategy for how we can help companies and our economy grow once again. We will release that in the coming weeks.
If you can support local business now, we’re showcasing some of them on Only in the Peg, Peg City Grub and highlighting how Winnipeg companies are stepping up in the pandemic fight in our EDW newsroom.
If you know of a business success story you think needs to be shared more widely, reach out to us and if you’re a business in need of assistance, contact our YES! Winnipeg team through our website form.
As we start to get through the peak of this crisis, we’re going to have to start talking about recovery. How we do that? How do we decide when to go back to work and what social distancing needs to happen and what the protocols should be? That is going to take all of our effort as a team to come together and share best practices.
In uncertain times like these, it will be critical that we all work together to find a new path forward.