In March of 2020, as COVID-19 changed the world, the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce responded with urgency. The Chamber and Eastman Immigrant Services (EIS) quickly adapted operations to provide services virtually and/or within provincial guidelines. Our first priority was to help businesses with support and recovery.
Together with the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, we continue to be the voice of business in our community at all levels of government. The following outlines some of the many efforts and adaptations we implemented to help the business community in the Eastman region navigate through this crisis with resilience.
We advocate for and alongside your business locally, provincially, and nationally.
Manitoba Chamber of Commerce Network – Our staff attend weekly meetings with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce addressing current concerns expressed by the Steinbach business community. MB Chambers is in regular communication with both the federal and provincial governments, advocating on behalf of all provincial businesses and organizations. Click for a detailed infographic on this collaborative effort.
Advocacy Letters - We presented letters to Premier Pallister, Minister Eichler and Minister Goertzen from our City Mayor with supporting letters from Steinbach Chamber President and business owners from our community explaining how businesses have been impacted by COVID-19.
Meetings and Calls with Chuck Davidson, President & CEO of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce – We have had multiple meetings to advocate on behalf of our business community to safely loosen restrictions, with the most recent meeting being on January 8th to discuss the restriction order ending January 22nd.
#MBPoli Power Hour – We provided information for members to register to all ten #MBPoli Power Hours which includes an opportunity for conversation on critical updates affecting our community and the chance for a live Q & A with Government Officials including:
- The Honourable Kelvin Goertzen, Minister of Education
- The Honourable Cameron Friesen, Minister of Health, Seniors & Active Living
- The Honourable Cliff Cullen, Minister of Justice & Attorney
Bridge Grant Eligibility – By collecting information from our business community, we were able to communicate with the MB Chambers of Commerce about the need to expand the eligibility criteria for businesses for the Bridge Grant. This led to the inclusion of the entertainment industry.
Media Release in response to group protesting government restrictions – Chamber President Wayne Patram released a statement urging the protest organizers to reconsider hosting the event. Read Wayne's statement here.
Meetings with the Honourable Kelvin Goertzen, Deputy Premier and Government House Leader – We have had multiple meetings to advocate on behalf of our business community about safely loosening restrictions. Most recently, Chamber President, Wayne Patram and Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk met with Mr. Goertzen on January 13th to discuss loosening the restriction order ending January 22nd.
Participated in Road to Recovery Q & A with Provincial Leaders
Participated in Roundtable Discussion – Discussed a regional economic opening approach in response to the pandemic with Economic Development Officers from around the province.
Presentations and Meetings with Steinbach City Council and Mayor – We have held several meetings with Steinbach City Council with a focus on Chamber initiatives, activities and coordinating advocacy efforts.
Southeast Event Centre – We hold a seat on the Board of Directors of the SEC with the intention of representing our business community at that level.
We provide opportunities to connect to the resources and networks you need to grow your business, be more profitable, and attain success.
Hosted Online Mixer Event – "Adapting to Change" was an opportunity for businesses to hear from other local business leaders who had made significant changes as a result of the ever-changing environment during the pandemic.
Steinbach Burger Days – We offered a cost-free opportunity for businesses to join Burger Days as a conscious move to provide economic stimulus to the restaurant sector which had been struggling under the current restrictions. We were able to showcase participating restaurants via radio, online and social media marketing which resulted in $182,549 in sales from the event.
Business Excellence Awards – We shifted our focus from an in-person Chamber member event to a community celebration which focused on our local business community at large. We were able to showcase business excellence in our community with a marketing campaign designed to impact local radio, online and social media users.
Chamber Chats - Beginning in January, our Chamber began hosting short, weekly online meetings on Tuesdays at 10:30am. These chats help to connect our business community, allowing voices to be heard from different sectors and industries, to provide a better understanding of our members' current experiences and challenges. These 'chats' also provide a significant opportunity for us to increase our effectiveness in our advocacy efforts at all levels of government.
Chamber Executives of Manitoba (CEM) – Executive Director, Michelle Bezditny joined the CEM in an effort to unite, learn and grow our Chamber network.
Young Leaders Breakfast Series – A 4-part series designed to connect, educate and develop young professionals. Although a portion had to be done virtually, this series has been very well received.
Cultivate Relationships with Neighboring Communities – Facilitated meetings with the RM of Hanover and RM of Ste. Anne.
Tourism in Steinbach – We continue to be involved in meetings with Eastman Tourism and Travel Manitoba to work on the growth of tourism in our community. We also completed the Steinbach and Area Event Asset list for Travel Manitoba and engaged with Travel Manitoba’s focus group initiative.
Promotion / Attendance of Grand Openings of New Member Businesses – We proudly marketed and attended several grand openings of new member businesses in 2020 while ensuring compliance of COVID-19 rules and regulations.
Past Presidents Council – We met with past presidents of the Chamber of Commerce in an effort to gain feedback and perspective. Through this meeting, we were able to connect with the Business Council of Manitoba to pursue engagement on the economic development of Steinbach.
Business Council of Manitoba – We met with Bram Strain, President and CEO, and our conversation focused on economic development and potentially aligning our regional plan with a provincial plan.
Promotion of Giving Back to the Community - Supported local non-profit organizations by promoting local initiatives such as Giving Tuesday, Stockings for Seniors, Poppy Drive 2020, Take the Pledge, Miracle Treat Days (DQ), Canada United Weekend, YFC Golf Classic, and many more.
EASTMAN IMMIGRANT SERVICES (EIS)
Online Citizenship Celebrations – EIS offered virtual opportunities to celebrate those who became Canadian Citizens in 2020.
Expansion to Interlake Region (April 2020) - EIS began offering settlement services and all programing to newcomers in this area, including territory from Grand Rapids in north, to Ashern as west boundary, south to Emerson at USA border, and east along Ontario border.
ERIP Business Survey - A program of EIS called Eastman Region Immigration Partnership (ERIP) sought feedback from local business owners to help us understand the needs regarding the workforce, practices to attract and retain employees and what kind of services business owners use to fill vacant jobs, specifically for newcomers.
English for Work Language Classes – expanded our English for Work classes to include a Health Care Aide Training class.
Support Local Holiday Shopping Guide – We provided local businesses with a complimentary online platform to promote their products and services, as well as made it easy and convenient for Manitobans to shop and support local during the holiday season.
#ShowYourSupport Campaign – Through the efforts of Chuck Davidson (MB Chamber of Commerce), and with the approval by Economic Development and Training Minister, Ralph Eichler, we were able to submit a proposal and secure funds to run the #ShowYourSupport campaign. The campaign focused on educating the public on why they should choose to shop locally. The funds were used to market via online, digital, and print promotions, giveaways, and testimonials that brought the focus back to supporting local.
CBC Winnipeg News Interview - We were honoured to be contacted by CBC Winnipeg for an interview (Jan.27) about how our local business community was responding to current restrictions, and the Chamber's role during it all. Watch the interview with Michelle Bezditny here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTrwnuQ1ZIQ&feature=youtu.be
We provide opportunities to participate in first-rate workshops and seminars, as well as other events or programs that strengthen our community.
Weekly eNewsletters, “The Bottom Line” – Featuring COVID-19 information, practical resources and links to funding application forms. See "The Bottom Line" archives here.
Provide COVID-19 Tools – Through our website and social media, we promoted locally sourced PPE providers, infographics, posters, news articles, supports for businesses and non-profits, Human Resource best practices. See those tools & resources here.
Hosted Virtual Lunch & Learn Events - Topics included:
- Making Conflict Productive
- Navigating Legal Implications & Business Impacts from COVID-19
- A Big Pivot for Small Business
Starting a Business Guide – We are committed to advocating for growth and economic development in our region. We produced a step by step guide on how to start a business with a comprehensive list of local resources to help future entrepreneurs reach their goals. See the Starting a Business Guide here.
Provided Resources for Small Business Week - This included:
- Guides for Small Businesses
Eastman Education Task Force – We met with various education stakeholders in our community to discuss education expansion opportunities for the region. Education and training have a significant positive impact on economic development in the southeast.
Red River Community College – We attended their strategic planning session and focused on the need in our business community to develop and train a skilled labour workforce.