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This article was published 13/9/2017 (283 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Downtown Winnipeg will be under intense scrutiny from today until Friday as about 600 experts in downtown management and renewal from across North America will be here for the International Downtown Association’s 63rd annual conference and trade show.
Not only is it a coup for the meetings and conference business in Winnipeg — as it is one of the rare times the conference is being held outside the United States — it is also a testimony to the success of the efforts to revitalize downtown over the past couple of decades.
IDA members attending represent business improvement zones, as well as economic development agencies and municipal governments.
It took the Winnipeg host committee representing the Downtown, Exchange and West End Business Improvement Zones about three years of hard work to land the conference.
"This is huge," said Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown BIZ. "We submitted a proposal, then there has been two site visits before we were finally awarded this prestigious conference."
These IDA conferences are more than just people gathering doing typical industry association things. The host city is a very big focus of the event.
"The IDA is looking for cities that have that energy, that vibe, that commitment, that effort for downtown renewal," Grande said. "They were very pleasantly surprised to see what we have in our city."
Among other things, the success of public-private partnerships and the downtown Sport, Hospitality, Entertainment District (SHED) were strategies that attracted the IDA to Winnipeg.
The host committee picks the theme of the conference, with this year’s being "AuthentiCITY."
"We felt we won this because there is something authentic about our city that people feel right away," Grande said. "They saw it the moment they came downtown — the historic buildings of the Exchange, the waterfront redevelopment at The Forks and the Waterfront Drive, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights with its iconic architectural structure that carries significant meaning in a deep way."
Daily sessions will feature subject matter experts leading discussions on the Future of Physical Retail in the Age of Online; Good Governance: It may not be Sexy, but it’s the Key to Success!; Community Policing and Partnerships: A Canadian Perspective; and The Business of Winter.
A series of master talks will feature Winnipeg speakers, including Paul Jordan from The Forks, Ry Moran from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a special 2017 mayors panel featuring Mayor Brian Bowman, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark and Regina Mayor Michael Fougere.
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.
Updated on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 1:37 PM CDT: Updated.