Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Biz-hookup event is Manitoba-only this year

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CENTRALLIA is happening again this year, but this time it will be an all-Manitoba event.

It will be the third time the business speed-dating event will be held in Winnipeg. But this time the World Trade Centre Winnipeg, the organizers of Centrallia, are looking to hook Manitoba businesses up exclusively with other Manitoba businesses. They are taking their cue from exit surveys conducted from the two previous events, both of which included participants from around the world.

"We heard from many people who said that some of their best meetings were with other Manitoba companies or that they had no idea that there were companies in Manitoba like the ones they met at Centrallia," said Mariette Mulaire, CEO of World Trade Centre (WTC) Winnipeg.

The 11/2-day event on Oct. 8 and 9 will also include presentations on three Manitoba-specific business sectors/issues -- the environment and the green economy, the North and the government procurement process (titled How Business and Government in Manitoba Get Their Shopping Done.)

Focusing on Manitoba-only participants means it will be scaled back and less costly for participants. (There also won't be any high-priced keynote speakers such as Malcolm Gladwell, who spoke at the last Centrallia).

"We really think a local event like this would be great because many of us -- myself included -- don't always know who's out there doing what," Mulaire said.

During the second day of the conference, participants will have up to eight scheduled, 30-minute one-on-one meetings with potential suppliers, customers or alliance partners using Centrallia's matchmaking software that links up parties depending on various stated interests.

"It is really about players in the region getting to know each other better and becoming stronger together," she said.

It can also serve as a springboard into a stronger international pitch that could be made at the next international Centrallia scheduled for Winnipeg in May 2016.

"One company may not have the competency that another one brings, and together they can partner up and form a business alliance to make a stronger pitch to Brazilian or Dutch or Algerian companies at the next Centrallia," Mulaire said.

With increasing interest and activity regarding northern development, targeting that region at such an event makes sense.

It would be almost like an international experience in Manitoba because many southern businesses don't know much about the capacity and opportunities for business in the North, and northern businesses don't always know about their best partnership options among southern businesses.

Mulaire believes Centrallia Manitoba could be the chance to open some of those doors.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2014 B6

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