Where do you live, 2019!? Such was the typically hilarious response from a friend in Silicon Valley when I recommended a podcast “for his commute”. From Google employees like him to accountants to lawyers, to economic development professionals to psychologists, if it is possible to work remotely, COVID has pushed entire industries to do so.
Being new to the role as the APEX Regional Innovation Network (RIN) Coordinator, a co-worker asked for my bio. He wanted to introduce me and show how my experience and qualifications relate to helping tech and knowledge-based companies. While I appreciate the kind sentiment, I have been involved with the RIN for almost 10 years now and it has never been about one person. It has always been about how the network can help companies start, grow, and innovate.
2020 was the Twilight Zone in the world of business. Sales, owners’ and managers’ sanity and employees’ resilience alike were up and down like a toilet seat. One day they were open for business. The next they were closed. Or pivoting to online. They were holding meetings on Zoom. Getting Zoom bombed. “Can you hear me now?” “You’re muted”. “You’re not muted and your dog is barking”. “Hang on, my kid is sucking up all my bandwidth with Minecraft”. “See the little camera with the red line through it, click on that.” This is all rather funny when you’re Zooming with grandma and grandpa, but this was our daily work experience in 2020. And now in 2021…
Empowering Small Business in Medicine Hat
I’d like to take a moment to recognize small, independent businesses. Of course, all businesses are needed, from Costco to the local candle maker. All businesses provide employment, contribute to our tax base, and prevent leakage to larger centers or the web. But at Community Futures Entre-Corp, we have a soft spot for the little guys. It’s the small businesses make our community more diverse and more enjoyable in which to live. They create the character and personality that is our city.
Once again COVID 19 puts pressure on the Alberta economy, small business in particular. On November 13, 2020, the Alberta government instituted targeted public health measures. Communities with more than 50 active cases per 100,000 people, became subject to enhanced public health measures to control the spread.
In the past six-months, we have shut down our economy, self-isolated and quarantined, we have worked from home, given up travel, and learned to use Zoom, Teams and Google Hangouts. We have re-launched, carefully stepped out of our homes to reintegrate into society, sent our children back to school and realized this pandemic is not a short-term inconvenience, but a long-term challenge.
What if I gave you a $50 gift card to your favorite restaurant? You could go for lunch by yourself and try to stuff two meals into your belly, but it’s more likely that you’d invite a couple friends for dinner and wine, and run up a bill of $150. The restaurant just multiplied a $50 gift card by 3x, much of which will be spent in the community buying cleaning supplies, local beer and paying for staffing. The restaurant staff will go and spend their tips as well. That $150 in revenue generated from a $50 gift card, and the money the restaurant ownership and staff spend as a result, is called the multiplier effect.