A Diverse Economy is a Healthy Economy
Diversity, diversity, diversity. Everywhere I go and in everything I read, I see the recurring theme that a diverse economy is a healthy economy. We need to be pursuing a diversity of companies and industries to take advantage of emerging opportunities for economic growth that have simply not been available to us before, such as the incredible explosion in tech companies and products. We must be demographically diverse, simply to represent the reality of who the new entrepreneurs, business leaders and workers are in 2019. And we must embrace a diversity of scale, encouraging the fresh new start-up companies we meet every day, providing support to help our strong local companies grow and expand, and doing everything we can to lure large investors to come to Regina and Saskatchewan for the first time. Something that we must always do when seeking to diversify our economy is, of course, to Think BIG!
EDR is building many partnerships in the community to help promote Regina as the best place to live, work and invest in Canada. One of our latest new alliances is with the Regina Pats Hockey Club.
The Regina Pats Hockey Club, in partnership with Economic Development Regina and Audacity, are pleased to announce Experience Regina Night, coming to the Brandt Centre on November 16, 2019.
The club will be celebrating the Regina Advantage with specialty themed jerseys and Experience Regina themed 22fresh merchandise.
The Pats are also proud to announce that Jay and Dan from TSN will be in attendance and will play a big role in the game night, including the opportunity to meet the pair for fans in attendance.
“We are really excited for this one,” said Pats COO Stacey Cattell. “It is a great opportunity for us to showcase our great city and we are so happy to have our partners with the Economic Development Regina and Regina’s Audacious Entrepreneurial Community on board.”
“We’re thrilled to have a partnership with a strong community partner like the Pats. We’re looking forward to telling part of our audacious story at the game and having fun with Jay and Dan,” said Economic Development Regina President & CEO John Lee.
The Pats specialty jerseys will be auctioned in support of the Regina Pats Community Foundation. Tickets for Experience Regina Night can be purchased here and the 22fresh Experience Regina t-shirts and bunny hugs are available now at the Pats Store at the Brandt Centre or patsstore.ca.
By Bruce Johnstone
As someone who’s invested millions of dollars buying and building new car dealerships in Regina over the past 25 years, Bruce Axelson knows what it means to invest in your community.
Not surprisingly then, Axelson, president of Capital Automotive Group, was more than willing to participate in Economic Development Regina’s Investment Partnership program, which aims to raise more than $1 million to fund EDR initiatives, like the Regina Advantage campaign.
“I so believe in Saskatchewan and I believe in Regina, I really do,’’ Axelson said in a recent interview from his office at Capital Auto Mall at 4020 Rochdale Blvd. in northwest Regina.
“I think we’re a great place to live, grow a business and grow a family and enjoy the social benefits of a small community.’’
Certainly, Axelson has had a long-standing love affair with the car business, the province of Saskatchewan and the city of Regina. Axelson, who grew up in Prince Albert and worked at car dealerships during high school, started working full-time for Canadian Motors in Regina as a salesman at age 23, becoming sales manager one year later.
In 1974, Axelson acquired his first dealership in Melfort before the age of 30. In 1992, he returned to Regina after acquiring the former Eisbrenner GM dealership in Regina, renaming it Capital Pontiac, which later became Capital GMC Buick Cadillac.
In 2002, having bought the Percival Mercury dealership, he opened Capital Ford Lincoln. Since then, he’s opened dealerships in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Calgary for a total of five dealerships in Canada.
“Being in business is like making a series of bets. And we’re just betting that people will enjoy being in Regina and investing here.’’
But Axelson’s biggest gamble was borrowing millions of dollars to build two new dealerships, Capital GMC Buick Cadillac and Capital Ford Lincoln, on 18.5 acres (7.5 hectares) in Regina’s northwest in 2007. Axelson also built Universal Collision, a stand-alone, 35,000-square-foot auto body shop, on the same site.
That investment -- the biggest of Axelson’s career – was about to get a lot riskier. About two years after opening, the unthinkable happened. On June 1, 2009, GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – the biggest manufacturing firm bankruptcy in U.S. history. To add insult to injury, GM dropped the Pontiac brand name, which had been Axelson’s number one seller.
But Axelson didn’t panic. He did what any pragmatic, seasoned Saskatchewan farmer or business owner would do. He stood his ground and waited it out. And, fortunately, his patience and the hard work of Capital’s staff, paid off, as GM weathered the storm and within five years had returned to profitability.
Looking back 10 years later, Axelson views the crisis in 2009 with equanimity. If anything, surviving the downturn and the bankruptcy of GM renewed his confidence in Regina as a place to do business.
“We’ve grown our staff to 300 or 400 people here in Regina. All those people trust that they’re going to look after our company and I’m going to look after them. That’s what makes a small company (like ours) safe and secure for the people who work here.’’
Axelson said the ‘small town’ feel of Regina is one of the reasons why it’s a good place to build a business here.
“The neighbourhood understands that you’re in it for the long haul and you can be respected as a place to do business and people can trust us with their time and their investment. Because cars cost a lot of money.”
Of course, Capital Automotive Group has been very successful at selling cars and trucks in Regina (having been named the top-selling GM and Ford dealer in Canada numerous times). That’s one reason Axelson is ready, willing and able to give back to the community.
Accordingly, Capital Automotive Group gives generously to local charities, like MS Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, STARS Air Ambulance, Salvation Army, Souls Harbour, Children’s Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and others through its Capital Cares charitable giving program.
“When you’re investing in your community – whether it’s in health care or job creation or education – all of those things benefit your community. If EDR can help existing businesses to grow or make it an exciting place for new companies to consider living in, then we’re all doing our job.’’
“We all want to live in a good neighbourhood and that means a good business neighbourhood, as well.’’
Investing in community is also why Capital Automotive Group is one of the founding partners of Mosaic Stadium. Along with corporate heavyweights, like the Mosaic Company, SaskTel, and Harvard Broadcasting, Capital is pitching in to help pay the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ $40-milllion contribution towards the construction of the $278-million stadium.
“Whether you’re a football fan or not, the Riders are steeped in the tradition of the city and this province. It does cost a small enterprise like (Capital Automotive Group) lots of money to be a participant with Mosaic, SaskTel and Harvard. But the staff wanted to get behind it, so that’s why we’re doing it.”
That’s in addition to Capital’s long-standing commitment to providing vehicles for Riders’ coaching and management staff through its Capitalville program launched in the 1990s.
But Axelson’s commitment to Regina goes well beyond his business interests. “Both of my daughters were born here. My four grandchildren were all born here. This is home. We’re only 230,000 people here so there’s a real sense of community. We all must do our part to sustain it and help it grow.’’
The Saskatchewan Advisory Committee will draw on new and existing evidence, utilizing the expertise of Committee members to advise on the development of strategy, policy, and activity to level the playing field, as well as serving as a spokesperson for women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan.
There is a significant gender gap in entrepreneurship in Canada. Women entrepreneurs contribute $148 billion to our economy and advancing gender equality in the creation of economic activity has the potential to add another $150 to $420 billion. By understanding and addressing the unique barriers that women entrepreneurs encounter, we can enhance opportunities to scale businesses and boost economic growth in our province.
Learn more: https://wesk.ca/sk-advisory-committee/
Recently, Ly Pham, EDR’s Manager of Business Services and Special Projects, had the chance to attend the Collision Conference, North America’s fastest-growing tech conference. For the first time in the conference’s history Collision was held in Toronto, bringing together some of the best and brightest minds in industries ranging from technology to marketing, to music and beyond.
Marking another first this year, two Regina-based companies, Vivvo and sMedia, had the opportunity to showcase their innovative new offerings at Collision. With the conference set to call Toronto home for the next two years, we hope that these success stories are the first of many that will represent Regina’s thriving tech sector on the world stage.
Province Releases Labour Outlook
The Ministry of Immigration and Career Training has released the provincial labour demand outlook for the forecast period 2019-23. The three reports provide current, accurate and valuable labour force data.
Read more: Labour Market Information page
Pet-Friendly Regina Destinations
Looking for places you and your puppy can go for fun? Tourism Regina has you covered.
Check them out here!