With regards to views on what it’s prefer to run a enterprise in Ottawa, Karla Briones gives a mess. She is the founding father of her personal consulting company for underrepresented entrepreneurs, a enterprise advisor for Make investments Ottawa, the franchisee of a Freshii restaurant in addition to two International Pet Meals areas, and a professor at Algonquin School.
Like so many different enterprise homeowners, Briones was hit laborious by the pandemic. Pet shops had been deemed unessential and her Freshii location misplaced 90 per cent in gross sales. “It’s been very tiring as an proprietor, as a result of it’s a must to determine what you’re going to do as a frontrunner, whereas remaining calm and retaining your employees calm as properly,” Briones says.
At International Pet Meals, she labored along with her crew to take orders by telephone, leaving walkie-talkies exterior the shop for purchasers with out cellphones. “Our telephone was ringing off the hook,” Briones says. “We needed to get three telephone strains.” Inside six months, Briones launched an internet retailer with 1000’s of stock objects. Gross sales skyrocketed as youthful individuals began buying on the retailer.
All through the pandemic, town has been working to help entrepreneurs like Briones by such initiatives because the Financial Restoration Process Power. Now, with upcoming turnover at metropolis council, there’s a possibility for enterprise homeowners like Briones to think about what the longer term Ottawa would possibly seem like — and to articulate what is required.
For Briones, the reply is easy: extra help for native companies. She instantly calls out the dearth of organizations that characterize the enterprise pursuits of a neighbourhood — generally known as a enterprise enchancment space (BIA), a time period first coined for Toronto’s Bloor Village in 1970. Sometimes made up of enterprise homeowners and councillors, they’re not-for-profit teams that help retailers of all kinds with tasks that may entice extra consumers to the world. As soon as there may be sufficient help for the creation of a BIA, town can formally set the geographical borders. These associations are then funded by a tax on neighbourhood companies. Cash is spent on enhancements to the world — flower containers, for instance — and collectively the entrepreneurs can put ahead a united entrance.
“There are a number of components of town the place there may be not a BIA, [and] a few of the native companies don’t have a collective voice,” she says. That is the case for Kanata South, the place one in all Briones’ pet shops is situated. She thinks a BIA might assist her with present challenges equivalent to inflation and lack of staffing.
Whereas acknowledging that it’s not solely a metropolis subject, Briones says she would like to see the implementation of a BIA within the space. “It’s a rising a part of town with many companies getting in,” she says. “It’s a really mature a part of town — I’m simply shocked that there’s not a BIA.”
As the manager director of the Ottawa Coalition of BIAs (OCOBIA), Michelle Groulx works to bolster the assorted associations that advocate for native companies. Groulx says that BIAs and companies wish to metropolis council for route on what it means to dwell and work in Ottawa, particularly with many employees not commuting downtown on a regular basis.
“Will this subsequent metropolis council begin to take into account supporting the conversion of buildings from workplace to residential, and can they work with all ranges of presidency to create extra housing within the downtown core to begin that transition?” asks Groulx.
Now and for the foreseeable future, Groulx says, companies might be coping with labour market challenges. “Everyone seems to be having a problem in hiring, recruiting, and staffing enterprise,” she says. “We’re speaking meals providers, we’re speaking excessive tech, we’re speaking retail.” One other main subject is rising prices. “Affordability for the enterprise to be right here, and affordability for workers to have the ability to dwell and work right here — [businesses] imagine that council can actually act upon these issues.”
“We hope to see a council that’s invested in financial improvement as part of the holistic good thing about Ottawa,” Groulx says. “Once you’re investing in financial improvement, you’re additionally investing in additional individuals residing and dealing within the metropolis.”
It’s a philosophy that Sonya Shorey, vice-president of selling and communications at Make investments Ottawa, would agree with. Whereas technically a separate company, town is Make investments Ottawa’s greatest companion; the 2 work collectively to succeed in mutual financial objectives. As efforts are put into expertise acquisition and progress, “how will we do it with variety, fairness, and inclusion on the core, in order that [companies] can develop and thrive [alongside] communities benefiting in an equitable approach?” she asks.
And if the longer term metropolis council was to ask Shorey what her imaginative and prescient is for Ottawa? “I see us as needing to zero in on a few of the biggest differentiators, alternatives and strengths we now have to deliver to bear on our world,” she says, based mostly on what she’s listening to from native entrepreneurs. “Ottawa has an opportunity to steer the world — and in lots of, many areas.”