Business coalition taking root in Elmwood
Group pushing to establish a Business Improvement Zone in Elmwood
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This article was published 08/01/2021 (808 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A group of Elmwood residents and business owners are believers in the old aphorism that a rising tide lifts all boats.
“There are opportunities that we have if we are all working together that do not exist if we stay in our own little bubbles,” said Robb Massey, president of the Elmwood Business Coalition and a longtime area resident. “Empty store fronts and businesses around you going out of business is not good for your own business.”
Since the summer, volunteers have connected with business owners in the area to pitch the advantages of working together. To date, 30 businesses along Henderson Highway have joined the coalition.
Dr. Averi Van Dam of Elmview Eyecare, a member of the coalition, believes there is much to be gained by local businesses coming together.
“One of the best things have been the networking opportunities,” Van Dam, who started working at Elmview in 2013 and took over the business in 2017, told The Herald. “Businesses learn what other businesses are doing, not only ideas you can use for your own business, but just finding out what all is out there.”
Both Van Dam and Massey spoke of the importance of business to support and work with existing neighbourhood initiatives.
“This is a very engaged neighbourhood, with lots of programs from neighbourhood associations, be it the snow sculpture contest, or the Winter Fun Day, or Happy Days on Henderson, or Movies in the Park,” Van Dam said.
Member businesses have been given window signs reading “This Business is Building Our Community.”
“That’s a literal sign for residents to see that these businesses are community oriented businesses,” Massey said.
“Having small business supported is important,” Van Dam said. “Being on Henderson, we’re visible, which is great. But when you walk by the same sign every day, sometimes you don’t see what’s there. Having a group that raises awareness is a big short-term goal.”
While the area sees upwards of 30,000 vehicles travel up and down Henderson Highway each day, Elmwood is not represented by a Business Improvement Zone. One of the primary objectives of the Elmwood Business Coalition is to change that. To achieve that end, the coalition has been circulating a petition, which must be signed by at least 50 per cent of businesses, which represent at least 50 per cent of the total rental value of businesses within the catchment area, which covers the Henderson strip from the Disraeli north to Kimberly Avenue.
“You’ve got to have good buy in from all sectors,” Massey said. “In the meantime, what we want to do is establish our group to work with other citizens groups in the area, local politicians and other groups who are already active and begin to bring some value.”
Over the years, a number of attempts have been made to bring a Business Improvement Zone to Elmwood, though unsuccessfully. Massey said he and other organizers are hopeful that building support through the coalition in a grassroots manner would yield different results.
“The biggest challenge of course is business leaders are busy,” he said. “We’re so fortunate to have a group of volunteers who have been listening to business owners doing all the work.”
“It’s a great area,” Van Dam said. “Lots of schools, lots of families. It’s important for people in the neighbourhood to have some place to go and see what’s available.”
Massey, who owns a business in St. James but remains a resident of Elmwood, believes that the area is a great one to set up shop.
“We’ve got a lot of residents who want to walk to do business,” he said. “With all the great community development stuff going on over the past 20 years, I know the agencies active in Elmwood want to help the businesses be strong and healthy here.”
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112