Yes! Winnipeg will hit its 10-year anniversary next year, and among other things, that means going back to the market, looking for its private sector sponsors to re-up.
The business attraction, retention and recruitment arm of Economic Development Winnipeg has relied on private sector support for about 70 per cent of its operating budget.
It has succeeded in attracting about $800,000 per year so far, but when it formally launches its next capital campaign next year, the ask will be going up.
Ryan Kuffner, who leads the Yes! Winnipeg team, said investment is already up 10 per cent this year over the previous year’s balance.
"That is just organic growth," he said.
"New companies want to be involved. They see and hear what’s going on and say they want to be a part of it. We never say no."
At its annual investor day breakfast event on Thurday, Economic Development Winnipeg’s CEO Dayna Spiring said the organization is keen to remain current and also provide real value for investors.
EDW has always been the repository of current data on the city’s economic activities as well as recreational and cultural goings-on through its Tourism Winnipeg division.
It has also been sensitive to the fact that now that we are well into the digital era, most people have higher expectations about how quickly they can access the data and how thorough it is.
To that end, EDW has developed a mobile app that will track how investments are deployed.
The organization has also decided to publicize the fact that it will make collateral material about the city — photos, videos and other graphics — available to Winnipeg companies that wish to use that kind of material when they are pitching business to customers or partners who may not know much about Winnipeg.
"It is important that companies have a really professional pool of information and video and photos that show what Winnipeg is," Spiring said.
"We have given photos and video away in the past when asked. But now we are putting them out there because some companies don’t know to ask."
Last month, the organization’s latest strategic initiative, Winnipeg Talent Hub, led its first international talent recruitment trip to Argentina, with five of Winnipeg’s largest information technology companies participating.
There was instant gratification with some job offers being made on the spot, and the success bolstered the organization’s beliefs that it is on the right track.
It is hoped that the talent attraction and retention program — for which it received $1.8 million for three years from the three levels of government — will become a platform that more companies will choose to use.
"Other jurisdictions across Canada have been doing something like this for a long time," Kuffner said, citing a recent mission led by EDW’s counterparts in Quebec City and Montreal that included participation from 110 companies.
"On our first trip, we had five companies. We want to build off that," Kuffner said. "This is an exiting opportunity for us to unleash the potential for our local companies."
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.