Partnerships are Cornerstones to Success
Partnership and collaboration are the cornerstones upon which the work of Economic Development Regina is built. Virtually everything we do to help the local economy grow is based on working with other people and organizations. We have very strong and deep relationships with a number of groups and companies, through which we share resources and jointly invest in our most important initiatives. One of those partners is WESK, who we work closely with on a number of projects/joint services and recently released an independent study on the vital role women play in job creation and economic growth.
In the case of our Investment Partnership Program, companies and industry groups directly invest their money in helping us to succeed. That only happens because our sole shareholder, the City of Regina, continues to invest in us, and inspires confidence in others to do the same. I simply want to say “thank you” to all of our stakeholders, collaborators, and partners. Without you, it would not be possible to Think BIG.
Prabha Mitchell, CEO of Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK), called on the Saskatchewan Government to help close the gender gap for entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan and create an Action Plan for Women Entrepreneurs.
Releasing the independent study commissioned by WESK: Women Entrepreneurship in Canada, Mitchell highlighted that only 13.7% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Saskatchewan are majority female-owned. Saskatchewan lags behind the national average of 15.7%. Mitchell believes “we can achieve parity with B.C and Ontario” who are the top two provinces at 17% “with a concerted effort to close the gap.”
“The key barrier for women entrepreneurs is financing,” said Mitchell, “undercapitalized businesses have high failure rates. Lending discrimination and barriers to venture capital for women business owners is still an ongoing challenge” added Mitchell.
Also included in the top 5 barriers were access to networks, training and mentors. The study also noted that given that Saskatchewan has the second-highest Indigenous population in Canada, women entrepreneurs here may suffer more from additional cultural and business barriers.
Specifically, Mitchell called for a 5-step action plan to realize the economic opportunity presented by female entrepreneurs in the province. WESK’s findings include:
- Saskatchewan data is sparse and warrants the establishment of a comprehensive data base that would inform policy development.
- While both men and women are prompted by “opportunity based” factors to start a business there are some nuances and variations in the pursuit of their passion. Female entrepreneurs have a stronger desire toward work-family balance, which impacts scaling up and pursuing aggressive growth strategies.
- Access to networks are emerging as one of the most important drivers for entrepreneurial success; while participation in training, and access to mentors also impact access to capital.
- Given the fast-paced digital revolution and it’s impact on the service sector, women’s entrepreneurial activity must expand into diverse sectors such as technology.
- Significant barrier to women entrepreneurs scaling up their business is access to capital and investment particularly. Primary reason cited for this is venture capital firms have too few women on the team and the existing bias amongst venture capitalists about women’s capacity for success.
Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor (Minister of Advanced Education, Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan, Minister Responsible for Status of Women) said: “This is a good news story. Women are changing the face of business globally and right here at home in Saskatchewan, and I say, ‘It is about time!’”
“We look forward to Saskatchewan’s women entrepreneurs not only keeping pace with the rest of Canada but leading it,” said Beaudry-Mellor
By Bruce Johnstone
Jeff Boutilier, president and chief strategist of Ascent Strategy, knows that his five-year-old company isn’t the biggest or the best-known among the dozen or so participants in Economic Development Regina’s Investment Partnership Program.
“It’s not a decision that we took lightly,” Boutilier said in a recent interview for Think Big Regina! “On a per capita basis, relative to some of our other investment partners, it’s a fairly significant commitment.’’
“We know it’s the right thing to do and we know it make sense,’’ Boutilier added. “So if makes sense for Ascent Strategy to be at that table and commit to that investment, it’s hard to think of organizations that it wouldn’t make sense for.”
That positive attitude has propelled Ascent Strategy from a small one-room office in downtown to much larger premises in Regina’s Warehouse District. From a two-person advisory firm with a handful of clients, mainly in the non-profit sector, Ascent Strategy has grown to become a seven-person office, with another two or three hires to be added shortly.
“We’ve really enjoyed explosive growth over the last five years.’’
While the business has grown exponentially, Boutilier said Ascent Strategy has maintained its core values and treats its clients more like long-term partners, rather than short-term customers.
In fact, Boutilier doesn’t even like using the word “consulting’’ to describe the services Ascent Strategy offers its clients. “We actually try to avoid using the ‘c-word,’ as we call it. We really try to partner with organizations in mutually beneficial arrangements.
“We’re much more interested in linking our own fortunes and outcomes to theirs. That’s perhaps where we have a bit of a different approach (than conventional consulting firms).’’
So Boutilier and company understand and support the concept behind EDR’s Investment Partnership Program and the Regina Advantage Initiative, which the program will help fund.
“Anytime you ‘re looking at making essentially a no-strings, vote of confidence in your economic development region, you’re really saying we expect this investment is going to pay dividends in terms of supporting economic growth.’’
Boutilier said the Investment Partnership Program was particularly attractive because it has seen the work that EDR has done to improve the business climate in Regina over the past five years
“We had the good fortune of collaborating with EDR on a few projects. We really started to see the impact of what they were doing.’’
“So if a smaller business like ours can see that value and come in with an investment that’s fairly large for us, to me that speaks to how confident we are that it’s the right thing to do.’’
“As a community of business people, it’s really important that we step up and we help fuel the engine that’s trying to make things better for us.’’
Learn more about Ascent Strategy here.
First Ever Collaborate & Connect Event for GRA Tourism Industry
Economic Development Regina held the first ever tourism stakeholder event November 8 at Conexus Arts Centre. 130 tourism industry partners, stakeholders, organizations and attractions came together to Collaborate & Connect over the half-day session. Session topics included supports that Tourism Regina offers through destination marketing, visitor services & activation, product development, data and community collaboration.
Director of Tourism Ashley Stone was extremely pleased with the outcome of the event. “We saw that as a community it was clear an event like this was needed. It let people in the industry learn more on how Tourism Regina can support their organization, and also network and collaborate with other organizations face to face,” said Stone. “There were conversations happening everywhere you looked, with a range of topics that were turning into collaborative opportunities right there in the room.”
TourismYQR: Collaborate & Connect will be evaluated by our team and stakeholders. EDR will be looking to make this an annual event moving forward.
The first 100 people through the gates will get free admission this year at Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) courtesy of John Deere to celebrate its 100th anniversary. That's one part of the plan to make CWA 2018 easier than ever to enjoy.
"We believe in being the most accessible event we can," says Chris Lane, CWA CEO, "Agribition is a great entertainment and social experience. We want everyone to come be part of the Agribition family."
Returning events include the Agribition Pro Rodeo presented by Ford, including Wednesday's free performance courtesy of The Mosaic Company, Full Contact Jousting presented by Chop Steakhouse Bar, and Running with the Bulls. The complete schedule of events can be viewed at agribition.com.
Cheers to Regina Beers
The latest travel authority to praise Regina’s local beer culture is no less than Expedia, who named us in the Top 5 Canadian beer towns.
This comes as no surprise, given the growth of craft brewing in the GRA.