By Sandra Blyth on May 20, 2020.
Despite the obstacles, there are courageous businesses that are persevering through this challenging time. Businesses that two months ago had a different operating model, and have virtually changed overnight to meet the needs of today’s reality.
At Invest Medicine Hat, we have been sharing these stories of bravery – from companies offering curbside pick-up, to others learning how to go completely online, and still others shifting their product or service offering. That amount of change is not easy. We know local companies are resilient and are doing everything they can to move forward.
For IMH and the partners of Invest Southeast Alberta’s Business Retention, Expansion and Workforce Development (BREWD) initiative, we too had to make adjustments and find a new approach to serve our businesses.
Before COVID-19, we had surveyed 476 companies and heard loud and clear what business required to be competitive and where opportunities for growth existed. Project solutions were taking shape through the advisement of 60 employers and service providers in areas such as: strengthening workforce service offerings; improving access to capital and property; improving regulatory conditions and downtown development. Then the virus hit, and we too had to pivot.
Over the last few weeks, an outreach was made to 50 key employers to get a sense of what, if any, of the information given before COVID-19 is still valid. In addition, what is still, or needs to be, priority. The results are that many things are still relevant, but adjustments need to be made in this new pandemic reality.
Projects that will be moving into action to support business include: Human resource workshops; easy-move recruitment toolkit; access to capital; shop local first; SMART city; and a tech awareness campaign.
In the coming weeks, these projects and possibly others will begin to develop and you will hear more from the BREWD movement. A communications plan is underway and the details of these projects and who’s leading them will be shared at investsoutheastalberta.ca.
As we adjust to whatever the future may hold, we encourage you to share your story with us on how you are persevering at firstname.lastname@example.org. If there is a way we can assist you, or your business neighbour we want to know that too. We are all in this together as we pivot our community forward.
Sandra Blyth is the Director of Economic Development with Invest Medicine Hat and member of the Leadership Team with Invest Southeast Alberta.