Spiring moving on from CEO role

Has led Economic Development Winnipeg for seven years


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Dayna Spiring is stepping down as CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg after leading the organization for the past seven years.

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Dayna Spiring is stepping down as CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg after leading the organization for the past seven years.

Spiring has been at the helm of the city’s economic development agency during a significant overhaul establishing, among other things, a market intelligence database and function that is now a resource to the city and the province and to businesses looking to invest in the city for the first time as well as existing Winnipeg businesses looking to expand.

EDW handles promotion of both tourism — including attraction of meetings, conventions and special events — as well as industrial and commercial development in the city.

It has grown in size to about 50 employees and is in the process of further expansion by at least another 10 positions after federal funding was secured for EDW to promote talent attraction and foreign direct investment to the city.

“I am not too proud to say we looked across all those organizations (economic development agencies in cities across the country) and stole the best ideas, amended them and made them our own,” she said.

During her tenure she was instrumental in Winnipeg being named the world’s “Most Intelligent Community” twice; leading the successful bid to host the 2025 Grey Cup; expanding flight connectivity including direct flights to Los Angeles; and launching a new place brand, Winnipeg — Made from what’s real.

Spiring was the former chief strategy officer with the Canadian Wheat Board who led the team that orchestrated the privatization transaction at CWB that saw G3 Canada Ltd. acquire 50.1 per cent of the former federal Crown corporation.

She succeeded Marina James, the current CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board, as CEO of EDW.

She said her mandate was to put EDW on the map and she said she feels the organization is now in the right shape and now is a good time for a new leader to “get in the weeds” and execute.

“When I took the job, the board gave me the mandate to make the organization relevant,” she said. “I have really felt for the past year or so we have done that. I committed to the board that I would spend five years … it’s been just over seven years. It feels like the right time to pass the baton.”

While economic development agencies rarely get the credit they deserve for attracting new businesses to the community, Spiring said EDW is always talking to companies about the benefits of doing business in Winnipeg.

She said Ubisoft is the example she likes to use, referring to the multi-billion dollar French video game company that opened a growing game development shop in the city in 2018.

“My vision for the organization has always been to serve as a catalyst for growth, and my personal mission is to confidently champion our city everywhere I go,” she said. “I love Winnipeg; it’s a special place with a bright future.”

EDW’s board chair had high praise for Spiring.

“We are very grateful to Dayna for all that she has accomplished at EDW and for her tremendous leadership. We know that her determination, commitment to excellence, and vision for this city will be very difficult to replace,” Bill Parrish Jr., who is also chairman at Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd., said.

Spiring said regarding opportunities missed, a lot of that came down to the fact the city has been short on serviced industrial land for many years.

“But that is being fixed by CentrePort now after the province and city announced that they are going to fund the servicing of that land,” she said. “Frankly that is the boost that we needed to be able to attract some of the investment that maybe has looked us over.”

The other area she believes the organization and the city needs to work on is the state of the city’s downtown.

“Cities are judged by the eight blocks of their downtown and right now ours is not where it needs to be,” she said. “Winnipeggers need to come together and make sure the downtown looks and feels the way we need it to to attract business and events.”

She said she believes Mayor Scott Gillingham has a great vision for the city.

Spiring will stay on board until the summer. The organization has retained People First HR Services to conduct a search for her successor.


Martin Cash

Martin Cash

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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